Senior QB Jake Garcia is the #18 overall player in the ‘ESPN 300’ and Rivals has him as the #39 ranked overall recruit in the nation. He’s 6’2″, weighs 195, and is already committed to playing quarterback for USC in a quest to bring glory back to the Trojans.
Jake is from Whittier, California in East Los Angeles. He’s currently playing quarterback in Valdosta, Georgia some 2,300 miles away from his home back in So-Cal. Jake’s living with his dad who retired from LAPD after 32 years on the force. Jake’s parents are still very much together/in love but they’re now legally separated so Jake can play football. How they arrived at this point is pretty wild.
It started back in August when the California Interscholastic Federation announced that H.S. football ‘would be delayed until at least December’ due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This essentially meant Jake, one of the nation’s top QB recruits out of high school, would miss his senior season and he simply could not go through that gap in play before USC. So he moved across the country as a transfer but the state of Georgia has some weird rules according to this story on ESPN:
For a transfer student to be immediately eligible under Georgia High School Association rules, he or she must make a “bona fide move,” in which the “student moved simultaneously with the entire parental unit or persons he/she resided with at the former school, and the student and parent(s) or persons residing with the student live in the service area of the new school.”
Rush Propst is a 7-time Georgia state champion coach who you might remember from MTV’s Two-A-Days reality show. He had a spot at Valdosta High for Jake to come and play but in order for Jake to be eligible he’d need to meet those state requirements.
Since he was retired, Jake’s dad had no problems with moving across the country so that his talented son could chase his dreams but Jake’s mom had a job back in California that she couldn’t leave. His parents did the only sensible thing and got legally separated!
Moving to Georgia wasn’t a problem for Randy, who retired in 2012 after working for 32 years with the Los Angeles Police Department. Yvonne, who works as an administrative assistant, had to remain in California for her job. For Jake to be eligible for one season at Valdosta High, Randy and Yvonne legally separated to meet the Georgia residency rules. According to court records, Randy and Yvonne dissolved their marriage on Aug. 20. They plan to get back together once Jake’s season at Valdosta High ends.
“The requirements [are] a full family move, so that and, obviously, grades and that kind of thing,” Randy said. “So at this point, we got a legal separation. We’re right down the guidelines as far as being eligible to play.”
Earlier this month, Yvonne arrived in Valdosta for the first time on the day of the Wildcats’ season opener. She returned to California on Sunday and hopes to come back in October and November and potentially again in December for the state playoffs.
“It’s been hard, but it’s worth it,” she said. “It’s a sacrifice and it’s worth it.” (via ESPN)
The whole story of how he landed at Valdosta GA H.S. and the background on the head coach who lost his previous job in 2019 for ethics violation is pretty wild. Jake’s 93-year-old grandfather, Raymond Garcia, passed away on July 10th after contracting COVID-19 and he had two other relatives who tested positive but only exhibited mild symptoms. Initially, the choice to move from SoCal to Georgia which ranked high in cases at the time was a difficult decision for Jake’s father Randy but one they ultimately pressed forward with:
Randy and Yvonne said there were initial concerns about Jake playing in Georgia, which has ranked high among states with the most COVID-19 cases. Randy said his father, Raymond Garcia, died at age 93 on July 10 after contracting COVID-19, and two other relatives tested positive for the virus but didn’t have many symptoms.
“There’s always a concern,” Randy said. “Yes, I lost my father. He was 93 years old. He was in good enough health to probably live another couple of years, three years, I don’t know. But yes, he caught the [coronavirus], and he passed away.
“I’m not going to get caught up in all the political stuff that’s going on, and we’re going to live life. That’s the way it is. And do it with caution. We’ll be at the game, and I’m hoping everybody has a mask on.” (via ESPN)
Before his first game with Valdosta, Jake had only participated in 9 practices and says he only knew about 30% of the team’s offense but that didn’t stop him from throwing for 339 yards and two TDs in his first game. He told ESPN “Georgia football is crazy,” Jake said. “I need this before college.”
My poor mom used to drive me and my friends to 6am crew (rowing) practice on Saturdays and would shuttle us to two-a-days during Spring Break and before the school year started but my god, this is next level dedication from Jake’s parents.
I’m actually a parent myself. I don’t mention this much because despite having a 1.5-year-old son and being a dad I don’t feel all that grownup/like an adult myself on most days. Would I move across the country so my son could play a sport? Well, I’d probably move from Valdosta to SoCal for half a year but it would take A LOT of convincing for me to move from LA to landlocked Valdosta. So major props to his parents for putting up with all of this.
Valdosta HS is currently ranked 34th nationwide and 14th in Georgia according to Max Preps.