SPRINGFIELD — Zach Garcia treated the spotlight like it was a blitzing middle linebacker. He tried to get away from it as fast as he could.
After his signing ceremony in the Effingham County High School gym lobby Friday, Garcia used one sentence to thank his supporters and direct them to a large stash of refreshments.
“I know everybody has a place to be so I didn’t want to keep them here a minute longer than they had to be,” the strong-armed quarterback said after inking a national letter of intent to attend St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, N.C. “I’m very blessed for everybody showing up so I didn’t want to drag it out any longer than it had to be dragged out.”
Garcia said his short speech had nothing to do with feeling uncomfortable. Nervousness on his part was rarely evident during his Rebels career.
“Those pregame butterflies are always there but, after the first snap, I just settled in and did my thing, and played the game,” he said.
Garcia’s on-the-field composure is matched by his toughness. He managed to have a stellar career despite suffering two broken vertebrae during a junior varsity contest a couple years ago.
The serious injury didn’t alter Garcia’s aggressive style. He frequently led the Rebels in rushing. Some of his runs were by design but many were necessitated by breakdowns in pass protection.
St. Augustine’s University coaches were impressed by Garcia’s diverse skill set.
“They like my pocket presence. They talked about that a lot,” Garcia said. “They also said my arm strength was amazing and that I could run the ball. They think I have anything you’d want in a quarterback.”
Garcia said the NCAA Division II Falcons employ an offensive system similar to what he learned at Effingham County. He took most of his snaps as a Rebel out in the shotgun formation, firing quick passes.
“They run the ball a little bit and also throw it a lot,” Garcia said. “That’s really the offense that I was looking for. It’s like it was meant to be.”
Garcia was thinks he will arrive at St. Augustine’s University, a member of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, at an opportune time.
“They just started their spring practice because they pushed their (2020) season back (because of COVID-19),” Garcia said. “They have one senior quarterback and a couple underclassmen. I am the only quarterback that they brought in this year so we will see how that goes.
“It sounds very promising.”