The South Carolina Gamecocks have some ground to make up with Norcross HS offensive lineman Max Garcia. But they will get the chance to grab the 6'4", 270-pound tackle's attention this weekend when he visits South Carolina for the first time.
"I actually just talked to (USC offensive line coach Eric Wolford) about five minutes ago," Garcia said Tuesday night. "I was just confirming that I was going to go to the junior day."
Wolford and the Gamecocks offered Garcia around two weeks ago. They join Alabama, Vanderbilt and Maryland as the programs that have offered the multi-talented lineman. Since the South Carolina offer, Garcia says he has spoken to Wolford three times.
"I think he's like a laid back kind of coach, like a coach you can joke around with and what not," Garcia said of his relationship with Wolford. "I could definitely see me being with him and just being myself around him and not having to be uptight. Definitely, we have a good connection right now."
But despite that budding connection, the Gamecocks still trail programs like Georgia, Vanderbilt and Maryland in the race for Garcia's services. He says part of the reason for that is he is still learning about the South Carolina program.
"I've been talking to (Wolford) a lot and they've been saying I would probably get the chance to start as a freshman, but they're not really on the top of my list right now, just because Georgia is on my list for journalism because that's what I want to major in when I go to college. So that's why I put them at the top of my list. But the University of South Carolina definitely, I want to learn more about them, that's why I'm really trying to go up there because I don't really know a lot about them. I just want to get more informed about them."
Garcia hopes to get informed about the South Carolina broadcast journalism program. He says he would like to one day be a sports broadcaster or even a recruiting analyst on a network like Scout.com. Garcia is serious about his academics and carries a 3.2 GPA. His coach called him, "one of the best kids I have ever been around."
Garcia has already taken a junior day visit to Georgia and left Athens impressed with the Bulldog football program and academics.
"I really like the tradition they have there and just being close to home. Coach [Stacy] Searels and I really do have a good connection as well. At junior day I spent most of my time talking with him. We had a really good connection. I like the feel of Athens. I love the campus. I liked the dorms when I visited. I liked everything about it; that was like the first main campus I got to take a real tour of and see everything, so we'll just see what the other campuses look like."
Another campus Garcia will take a look at is Vanderbilt's. He plans to attend the Commodores' junior day on March 21. He says his family is very high on the education he could get there.
"They really want me to take a good look at them, because they know the academics are so good there and just coming out with a degree from there is just a really good representation. That's what I really want at college. I just want a great degree."
Garcia hopes to eventually take trips to Florida and Maryland as well. He also wants to visit various spring practices to get another look at all of the programs he is considering.
"It's different seeing a coach when they're not at a practice, than it is seeing them on the field," he says. "You get to see how the coach works with the players, and how he gets all into it. I definitely want to see how they practice."
Garcia will have plenty of time to look closer at the programs he is considering as he doesn't plan a commitment any time soon.
"I don't want to (commit) too late, because I don't want to make it all suspenseful and stuff like that," he says. "But definitely don't want to go early because I want to take all of my five official visits, and get to know each university well before I make a choice that's going to be affecting my life forever."
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