- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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DESTIN, Fla. -- Stephen Garcia is arguably the most suspended player in college football history.
But this time, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier insists that Garcia really is down to his last chance.
“One more, and he’ll be finished,” Spurrier said Wednesday.
For the record, Garcia has been suspended five times, including for all or parts of three spring practices.
His most recent suspension came after he became disruptive and was asked to leave an SEC-mandated life skills/leadership seminar in April. Garcia admitted to Spurrier that he’d been drinking prior to the event while celebrating a teammate’s birthday.
At the time, there were several associated with the program who felt Spurrier might send Garcia packing for good, especially considering how much Spurrier has publicly lamented Garcia’s lack of commitment and flimsy work ethic the past two years.
But Spurrier was singing a different tune Wednesday now that Garcia has been reinstated on a probationary basis for summer workouts.
“He’s made a life-change commitment,” Spurrier said. “He’s changed a lot about his life. He’s a changed person right now. Hopefully, he’ll stay that way.”
Spurrier wasn’t promising anything other than Garcia was getting one last chance.
Asked pointedly if he believed in Garcia, Spurrier responded, “I believe he’s worthy of another chance.”
Spurrier also hinted that Garcia could be sharing the quarterback duties this fall with sophomore Connor Shaw.
“Of the eight conference championships I’ve been fortunate enough to win, four of them we’ve played two quarterbacks,” Spurrier said. “So you can play two. It’s no big deal.”
One of Garcia’s biggest supporters through his series of off-the-field missteps has been Spurrier’s wife, Jerri.
“She’s been his baby-sitter,” Spurrier said. “I think she drove him to about 75 to 100 of his community hours he had to do after his first or second suspension.”
As for Garcia’s teammates, Spurrier said the majority were in favor of giving him another shot.
“Most of them wanted him back and hoped he could learn how to act a little bit better,” Spurrier said.
Ultimately, Spurrier said it’s going to be up to Garcia to make the most of this last chance. A fifth-year senior, Garcia could become the Gamecocks’ all-time leading passer in both career yardage and touchdowns with a senior season comparable to the one he put together as a junior.
Spurrier hopes Garcia has finally gotten the message, but he will reserve judgment.
“It’s too early,” Spurrier said.
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