Gamecock fans get a look at QB

COLUMBIA - Stephen Garcia took his first, nervous steps at South Carolina, the highly regarded passer tossing a touchdown during the Gamecocks' scrimmage on Saturday.

Garcia completed 5 of 8 throws for 50 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jared Cook in the team's workout at Williams-Brice Stadium before about 6,000 fans.

"I was a little bit nervous, a little bit of butterflies out there," Garcia said. "But I was glad to get out there and get a chance to play."

Garcia was supposed to be further along by now.

After all, he was the centerpiece of coach Steve Spurrier's incoming class, a strong-armed, cocky, productive quarterback who looked like he was just what the ball coach wanted to rebuild South Carolina.

Garcia enrolled in January and planned to soak up as much of the Gamecocks attack as he could. However, two arrests in his first two months got him booted from spring practices and the team's annual Garnet and Black game this past April.

So supporters had to sit through a soppy, South Carolina afternoon to see their football future throw his first pass.

For the record, Garcia faked a handoff to fellow freshman Brian Maddox his first time under center and rolled left for a gain of 4 yards.

Garcia's first pass came two plays later, an easily thrown ball to new tight end Weslye Saunders.

The young quarterback got the ball into the end zone on South Carolina's next offensive sequence. On 4th-and-goal from the 5, Garcia found Cook breaking to the left far corner for the score to strong applause.

"Stephen Garcia did some good things, threw a beautiful pass there at the end," Spurrier said of the touchdown.

"Threw it down, guy's wide open, that's all we ever ask them to do."

Spurrier's first scrimmage of preseason camp was designed for backups and reserves.

And no matter what Garcia does in camp - the Gamecocks open Sept. 1 against Louisiana-Lafayette - he might ultimately wind up watching this fall as a redshirt.

Spurrier quipped earlier this week that Garcia was a "solid fourth" on the Gamecocks' depth chart behind fifth-year senior Blake Mitchell, sophomore Tommy Beecher and redshirt freshman Chris Smelley.

Beecher and Smelley split all the time on the Gamecocks' first two offensive series before Garcia got in.

Garcia wondered for a time, he has said, whether the fans would get down on him after his arrests and the embarrassment it brought the football team. He apparently didn't need to worry as the crowd cheered him when he entered.

Garcia grinned when asked if he heard the fans. "A little bit," he said. "I thought that was pretty cool."

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