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Garcia, Mangus return for Gamecocks

8/1/2011

It's rare that a school enters preseason camp with a fifth-year senior quarterback coming off his fifth suspension.

It's even more rare when that quarterback's coach is also coming off a suspension of his own.

Yet, Stephen Garcia and G.A. Mangus will both be on the practice field Wednesday night when South Carolina opens fall camp, coach Steve Spurrier confirmed Monday.

Garcia, who's been suspended five times during his career as South Carolina's quarterback, has been fully reinstated. Mangus, who coaches Garcia and the rest of the South Carolina quarterbacks, will also be on the practice field Wednesday. He had been suspended by South Carolina after police officers in Greenville, S.C., caught him urinating in public last week. According to the arrest report, Mangus' speech was slurred. He also had a strong odor of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet.

Garcia's most recent incident, which led to a suspension for the final part of spring practice also involved alcohol. Garcia admitted to Spurrier that he'd been drinking to celebrate a teammate's birthday prior to the SEC-mandated seminar where he was asked to leave.

Spurrier has said multiple times that Garcia has completely changed his lifestyle, and while Spurrier hasn't specified that Garcia has quit drinking, one of the requirements for Garcia to return to the team was that he successfully complete an alcohol counseling program.

For the most part, Garcia's teammates have remained in his corner. Alshon Jeffery was adamant at SEC media days that he stood behind Garcia and believed in Garcia.

By the same token, Spurrier isn't kicking Mangus to the curb, either, saying this one embarrassing incident shouldn't be a reason to send Mangus packing for good.

Ultimately, it's going to all play out on the field.

If Garcia plays well, stays out of trouble and leads the Gamecocks back to the SEC championship game, some of his foolishness off the field will be forgotten.

And along those same lines, Mangus will get a lot of the credit.

But if Garcia's "complete lifestyle change" isn't so complete and he struggles on the field, something tells me we're going to hear more than once about how the guy coaching him had his own issues.

It will be interesting to see how much Garcia and Mangus rally around each other. As much as any quarterback and quarterbacks coach in college football this season, they're truly in this one together and will be fighting a lot of the same stigmas.

It's not going to be an easy fight, either ... on or off the field.