By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer
While battling for a starting position this spring, Texas Tech sophomore and Clovis High School graduate Joe Garcia said he can still hear words of wisdom from Wildcats coach Eric Roanhaus.
“He said to always work hard,” Garcia said. “Never let another person outwork you. If they are going to beat you, let it be about talent, not because they outworked you.”
Garcia, a 6-foot-2, 206-pound sophomore is looking to have a productive spring and secure a starting role with the Red Raiders who went 9-3 last year. To do that, he’s going to have to stay on the field.
Garcia suffered a concussion early in Tech’s spring practice schedule, but he says he’s back to full strength and ready to compete for a starting job.
“It was just a head-on hit,” said Garcia, whose end zone interception helped Clovis win the state title in 2001. “It was helmet to helmet. I was out for about a week, but we got that taken care of.”
Heading into his junior season, Garcia said he is ready to see his name written atop the Red Raiders’ depth chart at safety.
“I’ve been waiting a long time,” he said. “You have to learn the defense first and I’ve been behind some really good players.”
Garcia played behind NFL prospects Vincent Meeks and Dewayne Slay last fall.
Carlos Mainord, Tech’s defensive backs coach, said it could be months before a starter is named.
“He has the most experience,” Mainord said. “But we don’t know who will be the starter. He’s been hurt, so he really hasn’t shown us what he can do.”
Due to an injury to Meeks early last year, Garcia started the first two games, but was relegated back to a reserve role when Meeks returned. Garcia played in 11 games last year, tallying 15 tackles, 11 solo, and a forced fumble.
“It was tough having to watch,” Garcia said. “But I learned a lot by starting (those two games.)”
Mainord said mentally, Garcia is capable of being a productive starter, but he needs to improve his football IQ.
“He’s really a smart guy,” Mainord said. “He’s real intelligent. That’s his biggest attribute. But just like all young players, he needs to see the offense — recognize what the offense is doing.”
Garcia said he expects to land the job by the end of spring practice on April 17 and he’s ready for the responsibility that comes with it.
“It’s going to be intense,” Garcia said. “They are going to expect a lot from me.”