Garcia thrilled to be a part of UF


Florida's Max Garcia during the Orange and Blue Debut at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, April 6, 2013.

Doug Finger/Staff Photographer
Published: Sunday, August 25, 2013 at 6:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 10:27 p.m.

Max Garcia has finally found happiness, and it has nothing to do with football.

He started all 12 games at left tackle for Maryland as a true sophomore in 2011, but after the season, he decided to leave the school and his full-time starting job.




“I just felt I needed a change of scenery,” Garcia said. “You come to college to be happy, personally and athletically and academically, find the right fit for you. It's all about being happy.”

Garcia wasn't happy at Maryland. Along with personal issues like wanting to play closer to home, he didn't like the direction of the program under new coach Randy Edsall.

The Norcross (Ga.) product visited five schools in the spring of 2012, and UF coach Will Muschamp and offensive line coach Tim Davis had what he was looking for.

“I met coach Muschamp and coach Davis and the offensive line, and I felt at home when I came down to Florida,” he said. "Aside from football, this is where I found Christ. He came into my life here. So since I've been here last August, my life has just changed forever and it's for the better.”

Garcia sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules, but he still valued his role in practice.

“It was tough at first,” he said, “but that's where my spirituality came in, just learning how to serve my teammates. That's how I gained my satisfaction, knowing I helped them get that win by practicing every day and giving a good look on the scout team. That was the best part.”

Now that he's eligible and healthy after missing the start of camp with a back injury, Garcia is starting at left guard for the Gators and looking forward to his return to the field.

“Playing in the SEC, how respected this conference is compared to the ACC, I'm really excited being down here with the best competition in the nation,” he said. “I played tackle in high school and at Maryland for two years. Now I'm playing guard — I can play left or right, I can play anything besides center. Haven't done that yet. But I just want to play at Florida, doesn't matter what position.”

Garcia's versatility is a luxury for an offensive line that lost two starters on the left side.

“The other day we moved him out to left tackle,” Muschamp said. “He hadn't repped at all out there and did an outstanding job. ... He's a guy that gives you a lot of position multiplicity as far as the things he can do.”

Muschamp called Garcia the type of guy he wants at Florida, and he believes the move to Gainesville provided the 6-foot-4, 307-pounder with happiness.

“He's smiling all the time,” Muschamp said, “so I guess he's happy. I don't know.”

Garcia does.

“It was the greatest decision of my life,” he said.

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