Carolina Panthers

Ex-South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia still has itch to play

Former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia can’t get rid of the itch to play in the NFL. He has been throwing at pro days and private workouts to get in front of NFL scouts.
Former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia can’t get rid of the itch to play in the NFL. He has been throwing at pro days and private workouts to get in front of NFL scouts. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia had been training quarterbacks in Tampa, Fla., when he decided maybe he should be playing the position instead of teaching it.

Garcia, who was dismissed from the Gamecocks midway through the 2011 season after several alcohol-related suspensions, spent last year as a backup in the Arena League for his hometown Tampa Bay Storm.

But he has been throwing to Nelson Agholor as the former Southern Cal receiver prepares for the draft, and last week Garcia stepped in at Florida’s pro day when the Gators needed a quarterback.

Garcia will be the quarterback Thursday when the Panthers work out Agholor in Tampa, just as Garcia did when the Eagles put through Agholor a recent workout.

“I’m looking at it as just an opportunity,” Garcia said Tuesday.

Given that he couldn’t win a starting job in the Arena Football League, Garcia’s odds for even scoring an invitation to an NFL tryout camp are long. He attended the Buccaneers’ local pro day a few years ago and spent the 2013 season on injured reserve with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes.

But Garcia, who passed for 7,597 yards and 47 touchdowns at South Carolina, has enjoyed throwing again.

He showed up to the Gators’ pro day wearing Gamecocks’ gear after Florida tight end Clay Burton invited him to participate. Florida’s equipment manager promptly gave him some Gators’ gear, which Garcia took home to Tampa.

“I’m doing some laundry right now and just folded up the Gator clothes,” Garcia said during a phone interview. “I caught a lot of hell for that.”

Most of it came last weekend in Columbia when he returned for a reunion celebrating Steve Spurrier’s first 10 years at South Carolina.

“I swear that’s all the fans were talking about: ‘What were you doing in that Gator gear?’” Garcia said.

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