When the California Interscholastic Federation announced its plan to switch its 2020 football season to 2021 last month due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of the state's top senior recruits planned to sit out. That won't be the case for four-star quarterback Jake Garcia
, who will transfer from La Habra (Calif.) to Valdosta (Ga.)
As first reported by 247Sports' Greg Biggins
, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior instead will go from one of the top teams in Southern California to the nation's winningest program in Georgia — a distance of 2,300 from his home town.
Garcia made the move because he wants to play his senior season — he needs the reps he said — and still enroll into college early. He plans to graduate from high school in December.
The agile and strong-armed quarterback is currently committed to the University of Southern California and is the No. 4 pro-style signal-caller in the Class of 2021, according to 247Sports composite.
"I'm really excited about the decision," Garcia told Biggins. "For me, it was big to play as a senior. I need those game reps and this is going to be a big for me mentally as well in terms of preparing for college."
His new team made headlines back in April when they hired Rush Propst as head coach
The former reality TV star on MTV's popular "Two-A-Days" was previously at Hoover (Ala.) and Colquitt County (Moultrie, Ga.) and won a combined seven state championships. He has gone 313-93 during his 30-year career as head coach.
Valdosta began the season ranked in the MaxPreps preseason Top 100
at No. 94. Expect them to make a significant jump after adding Garcia under center. Another factor in moving up the team rankings is that several top squads have moved to the spring season.
The Wildcats went 10-3 last season and will be in contention to win their first state title since 2016 with the talent they have heading into the fall. They've won a nation's best 928 games since their 1913 inception, claimed 24 state and six mythical national crowns.
They have one of the toughest in-state schedules and open with last year's 5A runner-ups, Warner Robins on Sep. 5. Valdosta also has games scheduled against two more preseason Top 100 teams: Colquitt County and Lowndes (Valdosta).
Expect MaxPreps' first rankings for the fall season to come out after the Florida High School Athletic Association announces its plans are for football on Aug. 14.
Georgia announced on July 20 its plan to start the season two weeks late on Sept. 4 due to the virus. It currently plans to play a 10-game regular season with full playoffs.
Garcia began his prep career at Long Beach Poly (Calif.) then played two seasons at Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.). He transferred in January to La Habra, where he planned to finish things out, but the change in seasons altered that path.
"With not just California football shut down but the entire West Coast pretty much — Arizona, Nevada, Washington — I knew I had to leave the region," Garcia told Biggins. "Like I said, I think senior year is really important time to learn and get better. This will be big for my development and I felt this was the best move for me to make long term."