Stephen Garcia On "The Sports Drive"

New Gamecock commitment Stephen Garcia joined host Rich Taylor on ESPN Radio's "The Sports Drive" on 93.1 FM in Columbia this afternoon. Garcia talked about his commitment to the Gamecocks, his plans to enroll early, what he faces heading into spring practice, his goals of winning an SEC Championship at South Carolina and much more. Read inside for the transcript from this exciting interview.

ESPN Radio's "The Sports Drive" airs Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. on 93.1 FM in Columbia.

RT: How does it feel to now be officially committed to the Gamecocks?

SG: It feels great. It's very relieving. It's been a pretty stressful process, and I'm just glad to get it off my chest. I'm ready to start playing some football.

RT: You've obviously favored South Carolina for a while, but how tough did other major programs like Oklahoma and Ole Miss make the decision for you down the stretch?

SG: It was very tough, but ever since the first time that I went up to (South Carolina), I thought that's where I was going to go. I didn't really feel like I could've played anywhere else. I just felt very comfortable at South Carolina with the coaching staff and all that. I just can't wait to get out there and start competing.

RT: The big question that everybody is wondering about is, are you going to graduate early and enroll at USC in order to take part in spring practice?

SG: Yeah, I'm coming in there in December.

RT: What have the coaches told you about the quarterback race in the spring with guys like Blake Mitchell and Chris Smelley coming back next year?

SG: Coach Spurrier's told me that it's going to be me, Smelley, and Mitchell that are going to get the majority of the snaps during the spring. He told me that the only thing he can guarantee is that he's going to give me the opportunity. That's all I'm really asking for, and once I get the opportunity, I'm just going to make the most of it.

RT: What do you think you'll have to do to avoid being redshirted next season, and how are you going to approach that, whether you are redshirted or earn playing time?

SG: My play, that's what it's going to be based upon. (Coach Spurrier) says if I'm competing, whether I might be the starter or the back up, they won't redshirt me, but it all depends on how fast I learn the system and how fast I learn the plays and all that. That's what'll depend on whether I'm a redshirt or not.

RT: I know you're close with all your friends in high school, so is there a part of you that kind of wishes you could finish out your senior year with your classmates?

SG: Yeah, there's definitely that part. At first I was a little apprehensive about leaving early, and up until this little press conference, I never even told anybody I was. I didn't even know myself if I was going to graduate early. I just felt like it was the time and the place where I'm just going to go ahead and do it. I'm just ready to get this show on the road.

RT: Other than the opportunity to play quarterback under Steve Spurrier, what was it about the Gamecocks that really knocked you out, because it's been obvious for a while now that you really fell in love with South Carolina?

SG: Just from the first time that I went up there, I had a blast. It was one of the funnest times of my life. Then the second time was even better. I've met a lot of the players, and they really accepted me into the team. Like you said, the opportunity to play for Coach Spurrier is huge. Just the whole city, the whole town, the school, the campus, just everything about it, my eyes are just wide open. I just can't wait to come up there.

RT: As you know, Carolina already has a lot of high school talent committed in this recruiting class, but there are still a lot of guys left to go to fill out the class. Are you going to take the role now of a committed recruiter?

SG: Yeah, without a doubt. Without a doubt. I've got to get a few numbers from Coach Reaves and try to make this thing happen.

RT: There was a quarterback at Carolina about 12 years ago who came into USC very highly regarded. He had the long hair just like you. His name was Steve Taneyhill. You've got the long hair, so have you talked with Coach Spurrier about keeping it?

SG: Yeah, definitely. That was one of the first questions I even asked him the first time I met him. I just asked him, ‘What's your policy about the long hair and facial hair and all that?' He was like, ‘It's fine. Whatever.' He said they've got a couple players on the team right now whose hair looks a lot worse than mine does.

RT: Carolina obviously had a lot of close games this year and competed against practically everybody. How excited are you to be coming into a program that is on the way up and has come so close to beating these top 10 teams, knowing that you can be a part of something that has never happened at South Carolina by winning an SEC Championship?

SG: It's going to have a lot of pressure, but that's what the game is all about. It's going to be a great position for me to be in to get that first SEC Championship and take it from there and even win a National Championship for the first time. Like you said, coming close to these top 10 teams, it's been heartbreaking losing by these insignificant points, but it happens. They were just missing a couple pieces of the puzzle, and hopefully I'm one of the pieces. We're going to try to get this thing done.

RT: I've got to ask you this, because all of the Carolina fans are going to love to hear this. Is there any doubt in your mind that by the time you finish your career at South Carolina, that you will have at least one SEC Championship?

SG: Oh, at least one. Are you kidding me? We better have a couple man.

RT: Thanks for coming on today. We're all looking forward to seeing you up here competing in the spring.

SG: I can't wait either. It's going to be a blast.

RT: By the way, what number are you going to wear?

SG: Actually, I talked to Coach Spurrier about that too. He said that you're allowed to have two #5's, but they just can't be on the field at once. And one of the #5's that the guy has, he's a defensive player. I think his name is Carlos Thomas.

RT: Thanks again for coming on today, and congratulations on becoming a Gamecock.

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