Jake Garcia has long planned on signing a National Letter of Intent in December and enroll at his college of choice in January.
From September 2019 until Thursday evening, that plan ended with enrolling at Southern Cal, the in-state program he grew up wanting to play for and having been committed to for more than a calendar year.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder seemed solid to Clay Helton and company for most of the last year, even going as far as telling Rivals he would indeed sign with the program just last week.
But recruiting is a day-to-day industry and Garcia has announced he is back on the market.
The SI All-American quarterback candidate did amass some two dozen scholarship offers throughout his recruitment and despite the Trojan pledge, with programs like Miami, Ole Miss and others recruiting him relatively consistently along the way.
The spring before he picked USC, Garcia made a massive southern swing and took in plenty of SEC and ACC programs. He saw Alabama, Auburn, Miami, Florida State and others. He would return to Coral Gables again for a summer camp in June.
Since, most of the programs on the list have added a quarterback recruit in the class of 2021, but not the Hurricanes. The Seminoles did lose theirs this week with Luke Altmyer opening things back up. He will pledge Friday afternoon with considerable buzz on the Ole Miss side of the coin. Lane Kiffin could still pursue another passer after potentially landing the Starkville (Miss.) High native before day's end.
If Garcia is looking at being 'the guy' in a given recruiting class, Miami and Florida State lie as the most obvious options. USC has long pursued multiple passers in the class in addition to having SI99 QB Miller Moss on board along with Garcia since Moss picked USC on June 1. The Trojans are also sky high on the nation's leading passer in Jaxson Dart, who has USC in his top five ahead of an impending decision.
So may it be down to Miami and Florida State?
If it comes down to the ACC rivals over the next two weeks it's hard to look passed what Miami has been able to do not only in 2020 under new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and transfer quarterback D'Eriq King, but with its somewhat public pursuit of Garcia. Not to mention he visited the Canes under current head coach Manny Diaz on multiple occasions and has heard from several of Miami's No. 11 recruiting class at every major turn in his recruitment.
On the FSU side of the pitch, there's considerably less talent in Mike Norvell's quarterback room given the staff and roster turnover in Tallahassee in the last 12 months. Should the ability to play right away emerge as a premium factor in Garcia's decision-making process, the proven Norvell and OC Kenny Dillingham run at Memphis may be enough to buy in without having met with the staff on an in-person capacity. He visited campus under Willie Taggart last year.
There is also the possibility of other programs making a run at Garcia in the short term. Pac-12 programs early in on the California native like UCLA and Arizona State are among those looking to bring in multiple passers in the 2021 class, currently sitting with one on the commitment list. Adding Garcia, or Dart who has each in his top five, would round out an ideal QB haul in the cycle.
Few 2021 passers have shown the ability to adapt to a new QB room and offensive scheme like Garcia has. He shined at Narbonne High and La Habra High in the Golden State in recent years before making the move to the state of Georgia in time for his senior season due to the pandemic. California was one of the most notable states to push high school football to the spring months.
Now at Loganville (Ga.) Grayson High School after a stint at Valdosta (Ga.) High earlier in the 2020 season, Garcia has helped the Rams roll into the state playoffs without a blemish on the 2020 campaign. Just last week he accounted for four touchdowns in a win over Tift County.
Grayson High hosts Kennesaw (Ga.) Harrison High in the state playoffs Friday night.
Garcia has a palpable moxie and confidence to himself that extends to the field. He can work with solid movement inside the pocket to discover new throwing lanes and has enough athleticism to factor when flushed. He has plus arm strength to attack all three levels and can pitch with fair anticipation. Garcia will take some risks and play a boom or bust game at times, yet the uncommitted star is comfortable distributing from the shotgun and executing half-field reads. Garcia has a skill set that should allow him to blossom under college coaching with added experience.
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