Jake Garcia opens up about new transfer, hopes to play and USC commitment
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USC quarterback commit Jake Garcia isn't giving up on his hopes of playing his senior high school season in Georgia.
Garcia, who initially transferred from La Habra High School once the California Interscholastic Federation moved the football season to January, played one game for Valdosta (Ga.) HS last month before being ruled ineligible by the Georgia High School Association. And now he plans to transfer again to Grayson HS in Loganville, Ga., he confirmed.
Garcia is not expected to be formally enrolled at Grayson until at least Wednesday.
"I feel like that gives me the best opportunity to prepare for college and give Coach Harrell and Coach Helton the best version of me," Garcia said in an exclusive interview with TrojanSports.com.
Garcia's situation drew national attention, starting with a story by ESPN's Mark Schlabach on Sept. 16 that explained how Garcia's parents had to temporarily legally dissolve their marriage to accommodate the transfer because the GHSA requires a student-athlete to move with his entire parental unit to be eligible at a new school, and while Garcia's father moved with him to Georgia his mother was not able to leave her job in California.
Soon after that story was published, the GHSA ruled that Garcia had not made a "bona fide move" and deemed him ineligible. He started an online petition to try to get the decision reversed, but as the weeks went on with no change, he realized it was unlikely he'd be reinstated.
"Last week we tried to get the appeal and it didn't look like it was going through. It was just going to get back to the same people that we had talked to and had denied me in the first place. So if they already had their mind made up then their mind was made up," Garcia explained. "I definitely wanted to finish out at Valdosta. I definitely wanted to play my season there. I loved the kids and the coaches and the system and the history, and I wanted to play over there really bad. It just didn't work out."
So what's different playing across the state at Grayson HS, another premier high school football program in Georgia?
"You have kids like Carlos Del Rio or Chief Borders, both Florida commits, who have transferred and they were not eligible at the high school they transferred to, but as soon as they transferred again they were eligible," Garcia said. "So I guess that's just the way GHSA works -- it's a little bit different than CIF -- so that's how that came about."
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