Shortly after his workout at the NFL Timing Day at Williams-Brice Stadium, Stephen Garcia strolled up to a group of eager reporters and immediately flashed the charisma that has enabled him to remain a fan favorite at USC, even though his career ended badly.
“Well, it’s been a while guys, huh?” Garcia quipped as he prepared to field questions.
This is the first time Garcia has been in Columbia since he was booted from the football team following a failed substance test midway through last season. Garcia said it was “a little weird” being back in town, but said everyone has been very supportive. He’s been in town since Monday, but has kept a pretty low profile, mostly just throwing with Alshon Jeffery and Jason Barnes.
Garcia, who turned 24 in February, expressed remorse for the way things ended. He claims he’s made changes in his life and has finally learned from his mistakes.
“I was just a college kid, trying to do what everybody does in college. Obviously I learned I can’t do that being the quarterback at an SEC school. It took me too damn long to figure it out, and that’s what I regret the most.”
From a physical standpoint, Garcia is in the best shape of his life. He’s down to 218 pounds, much lighter than the 245 pound he weighed when he returned to Tampa. He’s been training daily, cut down on drinking and hired a personal chef. He said he has more balance in his life now that he has his son and girlfriend with him.
Other notable comments from Garcia:
- He said his suspension was for failing an alcohol substance test. There were a couple of reports claiming he had tested positive for marijuana as well, but he said it was “just alcohol” when he was asked.
- Garica said he didn’t think USC could have done anything more to help him and doesn’t blame the school for cutting him lose. “They had to do what they had to do. It was just kind of hard dealing with it.”
- Garcia talked with Steve Spurrier on the phone Tuesday. He said he plans to catch up with him before he heads back to Tampa.
- He said he has talked to about 30 scouts and plans to attend another combine in Detroit on Saturday.
- If he doesn’t make it in the NFL, Garcia said he could take a look at enlisting in the military. He wasn’t joking.
AUDIO: Stephen Garcia at NFL Timing Day [8:06]