Garcia thankful for Husky experience

Garcia thankful for Husky experience

No one would have blamed Husky center Juan Garcia if he had decided to have surgery and skip his senior year of college football to prepare for the NFL. Many thought his Husky career was over when he suffered a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot late in spring camp last April. However, he defied the odds and after a tumultuous senior season he's now preparing for life after college...

Garcia took part in the East-West Shrine game and was one of five interior linemen that played throughout the evening and he said he was satisfied with what he was able to accomplish.

"I was pretty happy about the game," Garcia told Dawgman.com earlier this week. "We had four guards, one was from BYU and one was from Texas, and they were injured so they didn't want to play in the game so coach asked me on Thursday if I wanted to play guard and I said ‘well, I've never played it, but I'll do it' so during the game I was going from center to guard getting some of those guys reps.

"There was a couple of times I got some reps at center and then in the same series I switched to guard. I liked it because I held my own. I didn't beat up anybody or pancake anybody, but I held my own."

To say Garcia has held his own over the six years he was a Husky is an understatement.

Admitted as the final 'Prop 48' player to the Washington program, Garcia proceeded to suffer through two-straight seasons of injuries including what many considered a career threatening broken leg and ankle in 2004. He also struggle through some legal troubles early in his career at Montlake before the coaches were able to reign him in and now he's leaving with his degree in hand and his head held high, but things didn't go well in his last stint in the pivot for the Huskies.

An 0-12 season followed by the firing of the man who Garcia admittedly supported unequivocally put a damper on how he ended his college career.

"The last game, it was bad, not because it was the last game, but because it was over and I didn't play as well as I wanted to and we were 0-12 in my last season as a Husky and there's nothing I can do to change that," Garcia lamented. "Even to this day, I think about it and dwell on it. I felt like I let a lot of people down.

"I think about all the things that I wish that I could change and it was just going through me that it was over and there's no more for me and I talked to the juniors and it was tough for everybody, but I told them ‘you can do something about this next year', but for me I can't."

"I didn't put the blame on one person specifically, actually I put a lot of the blame on myself. There were a couple of times either in the locker room or out on the field I got in a guy or two's face and I let them know that maybe some of the reasons we were losing isn't just because of them, but maybe it was the attitudes and the way we were carrying ourselves. Maybe it was not enough and a little too late, but everything went sour and went south and that's the way I ended my career as a Husky."

But all negatives aside, Garcia said he likes the new direction of the program.

"I think it was the right move," Garcia said of the firing of Tyrone Willingham. "I love coach Willingham and I will always love him, but they needed someone to come in there and spark the Huskies and the new coach definitely does that.

"People weren't buying (into the program) anymore so a change was needed. I'm not blaming anybody for the hire. I'm excited about it and I can't wait to see what they do next year."

Next year may hold an NFL career for Garcia who has been in Arizona since the end of fall quarter getting ready for the season, but at the Shrine game he got a taste of what's in store for him on the practice field and he also got to answer some questions about his injuries as well.

"The practices were way harder than the game," Garcia said with a laugh. "The coaches were 'old school' and we were full pads all week and I had flashbacks of coach (Dan) Cozzetto.

"All the scouts from the teams were there. The head coaches were there too. I saw coach (Jack) Del Rio there and it was intense. The whole week was intense because everything you did was looked at and critiqued.

"I intereviewed with a couple of teams. I didn't ask them about what's going on. They just asked me questions, about school and everything and all those other questions they ask guys.

"They were bringing up things to make sure my foot is healed up and my other injuries are okay because I've had some other big injuries."

"My biggest knock is injuries. I know if a team takes a chance on me, that I'll prove everybody else wrong and them right for taking a chance and if they don't I'll understand why too."

As far as his foot is concerned, Garcia said it was good-to-go.

"It feels good to me," Garcia said. "I practiced on it and I didn't use the special shoe I used during the season. I had had enough of that thing and I said ‘if it's not going to hold, it's not going to hold now' so I used a regular cleat and I went out there and it felt good."

Even though he is focused squarely on making it in the NFL, Garcia said he will still keep his eyes on the Dawgs.

"I come in around March and I'll be working out at U-Dub," Garcia said. "I'll come to a couple of practices and I plan to be there for the spring game, but I'll be there from afar because my time there is done and it's time for me to move on and let other guys shine, but I'll be there cheering them on though."

At the end of our conversation with Garcia, he had a final word for Husky fans.

"I just want to say thank you for all the support and once again I apologize for the 0-12 season, but thank you and I love you guys," Garcia said. "I'll never forget the way they treated me at U-Dub and that's what hurts me so much knowing how they loved me and cared about me so much and I gave them an 0-12 season."

Don't worry Juan, nobody thinks you gave the Huskies anything, except for everything you had for the past six years.

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