By Rick Assad
Playing football at any level requires being smart, observant, mentally tough and physically tough.
It’s a good thing that former Burroughs High quarterback Nick Garcia has all of these attributes after playing in his first season and second season at Glendale Community College where the Vaqueros have two wins in five games.
“At Glendale College, my first year there was a little chaotic. It was chaotic because of the fact that this was the first year back to class since COVID. Many people took online classes, including me and the vibe around school was off because not many people were actually there,” he said. “On the field I had a blast. I had some success in my freshman year of college, and I knew I could take that momentum into my sophomore year.”
Looking ahead, Garcia wants to play beyond GCC. Like so many, the worldwide pandemic tossed a monkey wrench into recruiting.
“I feel that COVID-19 affected my recruiting to the next level,” Garcia said. “It hurt a lot of programs at every level, and it trickled down and also affected JUCO players as well from taking our season away my freshman year to not having enough scholarship money to give JUCO players an opportunity to move on to the next level.”
Garcia’s initial season for the Vaqueros, who went 6-4 overall and 3-2 for third place in the Metro Conference and didn’t qualify for a bowl game, included completing 61.9 percent of his passes for 2,095 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Garcia admitted playing high school football helped him transition to the junior college game.
“I think playing high school football at John Burroughs before ending up at Glendale helped me tremendously,” he said. “The core group of coaches they have at Burroughs are passionate, smart, and push you to be your better self in high school. I think I wouldn’t be successful at this level if it wasn’t for my coaches in high school.”
Having played point guard for the basketball team in high school has also been invaluable asset.
It’s a significant jump from high school to college because of size, age and maturity.
“The biggest difference in high school and junior college football is that in high school I feel that many kids get by without preparing for many opponents, but in junior college, if you go into games unprepared, it will show on the field,” Garcia explained.
Every position in football demands skill and concentration. Playing quarterback is especially demanding because you’re running the offense, and everything begins with you.
“I have learned a lot about myself and how to play the position of quarterback at a high level at GCC. I feel the coaches have high expectations for me here at Glendale and I honestly love that they expect a lot from me because I expect a lot from myself as well,” said Garcia, who scored six rushing touchdowns in his first season. “They have taught me how to break down film off the field and how to study it. On the field, they really let me play free and allow me to play, which is another thing I love about our coaches here at Glendale.”
The on-field and off-field work has paid dividends.
“I am a better signal caller now than I was in high school because of the experience and the veteranship I have now. Coach Rand [Holdren], when I was in high school laid down the groundwork for me to be an efficient quarterback and he allowed me to play super free which I loved, but here in college it’s a lot different from trying to run your team and operate,” Garcia said. “I think my ups and downs my freshman year of college helped me learn how to lead the team more, how to read defenses, how to take advantage of mistakes the defense makes all comes with playing more and more at a high level.”
Playing in his first season in college saw Garcia claim a number of accolades.
“My biggest and best moment at GCC so far was probably the game against West Los Angeles last year. I feel that this was my breakout game as a freshman,” he said. “This game I had four passing touchdowns and earned Southern California Junior College Offensive Player of the Week.”
Like all talented players, Garcia likes to compete.
“My best attribute as a quarterback is my competitive nature. Yes, I love to throw the deep ball and wow people with how I can throw the football but what I honestly think can separate me from a lot of other quarterbacks is my competitiveness to win,” he said. “Many quarterbacks in the country are talented kids but not many want to compete in my opinion.”
Garcia takes it one step at a time and one game at a time.
“I look forward to playing at the next level. If it comes to that, I feel that I can help out any team that gives me an opportunity,” he said. “Obviously I would love to stay in California and play for a team here such as Cal Poly, or UC Davis, but if that doesn’t happen, I hope to make the most out of any opportunity.”
Whichever school Garcia attends, they’ll be getting a dedicated and talented athlete.
“Any team who takes an opportunity on me will get a hard-working kid who is going to compete for the job right when I show up,” he said. “I also feel that passer wise, they get a strong arm, who can read defenses and put the ball where it needs to be.”