He was the cherry on top of an excellent Class of 2021 — as coach Manny Diaz put it, in GIF form, last month — and now Jake Garcia is on the brink of really officially becoming a Miami Hurricane.
The four-star quarterback has arrived in South Florida and is set to officially settle in at Miami on Thursday. He’s one of about a dozen Hurricanes scheduled to move in this weekend as the new semester begins Monday.
Garcia, a top-50 player in the 247Sports.com composite rankings for the 2021 recruiting class, is Miami’s highest-ranked recruit planning to enroll this weekend.
From the 2021 class, wide receivers Romello Brinson and Jacolby George, tight end Elijah Arroyo, tackle Michael McLaughlin, middle linebacker Deshawn Troutman, safety Kamren Kinchens, kicker Andres Borregales and athlete Chase Smith all expect to enroll this semester. The Hurricanes have also made three additions via the transfer portal: wide receiver Charleston Rambo, linebacker Deandre Johnson and defensive back Tyrique Stevenson.
Any one could become a star, but Garcia’s presence might be most important. As quarterback D’Eriq King recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the future of the position could be on display in the spring, and the California native will have a chance to make an early impression.
The elite prospect from Grayson in Loganville, Georgia, caught up with the Miami Herald ahead of his enrollment.
Herald: What ultimately sold you on the Hurricanes?
Garcia: “Miami had been there since the jump. I felt comfortable with Miami since the jump, really — since I started looking at it — and Miami had always been really like a dream school. Even for me being on the West Coast, just growing up and seeing games, watching highlights and stuff. The ‘90s, early 2000s, those type of teams — it was just an ‘it’ factor to it and I just grew up a Hurricanes fan, so it’s a dream come true. The kids have been pressing for so long. Like the recruits had a huge play in the decision, just knowing that it was home.”
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) December 17, 2020
MH: Five-star safety James Williams said he texted you every day. Is that true?
JG: “He was. It was James, Kahlil [Brantley], Mello. There was a bunch of kids. I had contact with Brashard [Smith] before. I talked to [Leonard Taylor] a couple times, so there was a bunch of kids. It was a big effort and it definitely made me feel at home. The fans with that little hashtag, #GarciaToTheU — it makes you know you’re wanted there, but at the end of the day you need to go in there and produce because they will turn on you just as quick as they were rooting for you, so just go in with your head down and produce, really.”
MH: What did you think when the hashtag blew up?
JG: “You guys are crazy, but I’ll take it. Like I’m saying, it really makes you feel at home. It makes you feel wanted. If you have the support of the people there and your teammates there, I think the sky is the limit. Surround yourself with people that want you there and want to see you succeed, and you surround yourself with great coaches that put you in the right position, it makes it so much easier. You’re not having to fight to get things down. They have your back, so it felt really good. I put something out where it was like, Miami fans, keep doing that.”
MH: What made you click with this recruiting class?
JG: “I definitely feel like I clicked with all the kids. We’re really like-minded kids. That’s the big thing for me. What kind of held me back from Miami was I didn’t know if it was just a party place because I’m all the way on the West Coast, so I don’t know if kids just go there because, Oh, it’s Miami. I wanted to be, Oh, I’m going to go here because it’s Miami. This is Miami football. I’m not going to South Beach. We’re going to the indoor facility to work out in the indoor facility, and go play and whoop people. I want that ‘it’ factor back, so that kind of held me back from it at the beginning, but I started to get to know the kids more and we’re like-minded kid, so that’s the best environment you could ever ask for is when people are like-minded and when that comes together it’s dangerous.”
MH: Your father, Randy Garcia, was a quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Was he coaching you up from a young age?
JG: “We’ll play a game like who can be the most accurate out of 10 or we’ll play burnouts. My dad messed up his arm playing that, like he can’t throw anymore. Burnouts — just trying to throw it as hard as you can at each other. He’d always beat me. We’ll go to the park and throw over a tree branch, so I’ll work on like an over-the-top release or in the backyard my dad will put a bunch of PVC pipes together and work the over-the-top release — like that type of deal, too. I don’t know even know if he saw me playing quarterback at that point, but early just-for-fun type of deal and now I really fell in love with that part of it, so just being able to grow as a quarterback fundamentally. It’s something I could definitely see myself doing is something like that with quarterbacks later on.”
MH: Where do you think your quarterbacking instincts come from?
JG: “I would say watching a lot of college football. I didn’t for a long time and then Johnny Manziel’s the one that got me into it. That’s my favorite on-the-field player, by far — Johnny and Joe Burrow.”
MH: Why do you like them?
JG: “I just think the excitement factor. If I could be Johnny Manziel running around, I would do it, but, you know, it doesn’t always work out that day. I try to take different people’s games and put my little twist on it. At the end of the day, you can’t watch somebody and then become like them. It’s not like ‘Space Jam.’ I want to put that Johnny Manziel, Joe Burrow type of attitude to it and I feel like I do bring that to the table. It’s kind of like an ‘it’ factor, I guess you would say. That’s a big thing of watching football and just getting different people’s game and picking up little things on their drop back or how they move in the pocket —little things like that.”
MH: Obviously, you want King to be healthy, but how excited are you about your opportunity this spring?
JG: “I’m definitely excited for it. I’m keeping D’Eriq in my prayers and I know everybody’s pulling for him, and I really do hope that he comes back, especially for him personally. He just decided to come back to play and I know how it feels to just want to play football. You don’t want it to be over. You just want to play football. I’ve felt the same thing he feels. God forbid from an injury standpoint, I haven’t had that, but I really do hope that he gets well and is able to play soon. I’m excited to be able to come in and just try to win over the locker room, and be able to excel. That’s an opportunity, like you said, that I wouldn’t have had if D’Eriq was 100 percent.”