The exodus from the Maryland football program has been something to watch. One of the Terps seeking a new home is offensive lineman Max Garcia, a 6’4″, 290 lb. guard/tackle from right here in Norcross. Garcia was a 3* prospect in 2010 according to Rivals.com. He’s done well up at Maryland and became a 12-game starter as a true sophomore in 2011.
Garcia tells the AJC that he’d like to transfer to some place closer to home, and there is mutual interest between Garcia and Georgia.
It’s useful (to me anyway) to go back and look at the recruiting process and what led Garcia to leave the state in the first place. The Dawgs were Garcia’s favorite at the outset, but to use Garcia’s words, “It just never really worked out the first time around.”
(All links below are to Rivals.com recruiting articles that may or may not be behind the paywall.)
Garcia first appears on the radar as a junior in 2008 when he attended the disastrous Georgia-Alabama game. The outcome of the game didn’t turn him off; he was impressed by the atmosphere and the response of the crowd and team. Garcia noted that “Coach Searels said he likes my feet and that I am one of the top prospects on his list.” He added, “I would have to say Georgia is my leader right now.”
A few months later, in February of 2009, he claimed, “Georgia is No. 1.” He was still without a Georgia offer after attending Junior Day. Searels wanted to see him at camp first. That’s not an unusual request; summer camp is a great chance for coaches to get in-person evaluations of players who might not merit sight-unseen offers.
By April, Georgia had been replaced. “Vanderbilt would definitely be number one, then Georgia number two, but I think they are only going to bring in two offensive linemen this year and they already have one (Kolton Houston).” He was having doubts about Georgia’s numbers, and an offer didn’t seem to be in the cards.
By July, Georgia was out of the picture: “Garcia is down to three schools – Vanderbilt, Clemson and Maryland – and favors them in that order.”
Garcia continued to pick up offers during his senior season, including one from Florida State, but his top three remained the same. “Maryland, Vanderbilt, and Clemson are the main schools I am looking at,” he said. By mid-December when Garcia was ready to make his decision, he was “torn right now with Clemson and Maryland.”
Garcia chose Maryland of course. It seems pretty clear that Georgia, or at least Searels, backed off at some point early in the process. Garcia wasn’t able to make it to camp, and so a Georgia offer never came. By the summer Garcia had already moved on to consider schools like Vanderbilt.
His concerns about limited room at Georgia were legitimate: Georgia’s 2010 haul of offensive linemen was small. Kolton Houston was rated slightly higher, and Brent Benedict was a top-drawer signing out of Florida. The Dawgs added Ken Gates at the last minute (and good thing!)
Gates is the only lineman to contribute from that small class. Benedict transferred, and Houston sat out the 2011 season with an unspecified eligibility issue. Would it make sense to seek Garcia’s transfer? After sitting out a year, he’d have two years remaining – the equivalent of a junior college signing. By the time he’s eligible to play in 2013, Georgia will have nine upperclassmen on the line.
At the same time, Garcia would be more experienced as a starter for a FBS program than anyone but perhaps Burnette, Lee, and Gates. The Dawgs might be set at tackle with Theus and Beard and any one of Long/Dantzler/Ward, but experienced depth couldn’t hurt. Garcia’s 6’4″ size might even make him more valuable as a guard. If Burnette moves to center, there could be opportunities for playing time behind or alongside Lee and Gates.
If you go back to the recruiting process, it would seem that Clemson would get Garcia’s first call. Clemson was his second choice, and it would meet his criteria for being closer to home. One key factor in the story is Maryland coach Randy Edsall placing restrictions on the possible destinations for the outgoing transfers. Players like Garcia cannot transfer to another ACC school or Vanderbilt. (Yes…Edsall is being petulant enough to target Vandy.) Those restrictions would of course preclude Clemson, and so Garcia would have to choose a school not among his final three choices back in 2010.
Georgia has the advantage of being Garcia’s initial favorite, and there doesn’t seem to be any animosity about the way things worked out. The 3* rating and recruiting evaluations are irrelevant now; Garcia has already contributed a lot more to a BCS conference program than a lot of guys with higher ratings. That’s even better than having to dip into the JUCO ranks where it’s still tough to say how well someone might make the jump to the next level. If he can help shore up the depth on what should be a veteran offensive line in 2013 and 2014, he’d make a welcome addition to the Georgia program.