Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Stephen Garcia is hopeful for a shot with the NFL despite his mistake-plagued, alcohol-hampered past. And part of earning that shot may be accepting that the responsibility for that past falls entirely on himself.
"I've learned how immature I really was," Garcia told Scout.com NFL reporter Aaron Wilson in a lengthy, detailed interview. "I just didn't know exactly how important everything was until after I made all of those mistakes. I was trying to be like every other college kid, but you can't do that as a starting quarterback for an SEC team. Looking back, it sucks. I have nobody to blame but myself."
A native of Lutz, Florida, Garcia recently played in the "Battle of Florida" all-star game and said he spoke to scouts from multiple NFL teams there, including one from the Atlanta Falcons. Garcia said he was as up front as possible with the scout about his time at South Carolina.
"I went down the list and he said he appreciated the honesty," Garcia said. "He told me to stay on that track, and I will. I just wish I had changed earlier. I didn't fully understand until it was too late. I'm doing everything I can to do things the right way."
Garcia's trying to impress the pros with more than his candor, though. He said he's been working out with former Arena League quarterback John Kaleo in preparation for the Gamecocks' pro day, sharpening his mechanics and improving his accuracy.
But Garcia still faces an uphill battle to be drafted -- CBSSports.com's draft ratings call him the No. 26 QB in his class, and expect him to have to sign as a free agent -- and any prospect who admits he will have to "prove that I'm not an alcoholic" isn't going to be one teams will beat down the doors to take a flyer on.
"It's kind of stressful because I don't know where the hell I'm going to be," Garcia said. "Hopefully, I'm playing in the NFL in the fall. Nothing's guaranteed. It's a waiting game. Nobody likes waiting around, but it is what it is. My head is clear. I'm more focused, and I'm ready to take on this next step in my life."
That step may or may not prove to be the step Garcia wants it to be. But if the remorse and maturation he expresses throughout the interview is genuine, that might be a bigger step than a chance at professional football would be anyway.
For more of Garcia's comments -- on Steve Spurrier, fatherhood, his insistence that he doesn't have "a drinking problem" -- read the full Taylor interview. It's well worth your time.
Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.