By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico
After doing so for Clovis High School and Texas Tech, Joey Garcia is hoping for one more chance to make a big play.
“My mom has always taught me, ‘Don’t let anybody outwork you,’” Garcia said. “Right now, I’m working really hard.”
Garcia, a 6-foot-2, 212-pound strong safety, has been training at Parisi Speed School in Fair Lawn, N.J., for the last two weeks, and will be there for five more weeks with hopes of being selected in the upcoming National Football League draft.
The 2003 Clovis High graduate wasn’t among the approximately 300 invites to next month’s draft combine in Indianapolis, which surprised agent Aldous Strauch. But the San Antonio-based Strauch said about a third of current NFL players weren’t combine invites, and Garcia will just have to get noticed on his pro day in Lubbock in March.
“Our position and aim is to get him individual workouts with teams, and that’s going to be his chance to shine,” Strauch said. “If they haven’t seen any Tech games, they probably will have some eye-opener experiences.”
Though he’s not going to the combine, he’s taking the same approach as former Clovis teammate and current Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Hank Baskett by training at Parisi.
“Hank did so well at the combine, I had to come here and check it out,” Garcia said. “I’m already loving it, and it’s just the second week.”
Strauch and former coaches of Garcia remark on his hitting ability, which he used while leading the Red Raiders with 79 tackles this season.
Ruffin McNeill, Tech’s defensive coordinator, stepped into the role four games into the season. He credited Garcia’s leadership and “ferocious” hitting ability for a lot of the team’s success defensively.
“The best thing about Joe is Joe does a great job of doing his job,” McNeill said. “That’s the best thing you can say about any football player.”
Strauch knew those things and first got interested in representing Garcia during his junior year. He said he’ll sometimes be impressed with a player until he talks with him one-on-one, but after meeting Garcia, he wanted to know more.
“The more we learned, the more we liked,” Strauch said, adding that Garcia is a self-starter with plenty of upside at age 22.
Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley said he’s always been impressed by what Garcia has done on the field, but more so by his intelligence and how he only needed coaches to tell him things once.
“He has the ability to go in and pick that stuff up,” Kelley said. “People would like that ability.
“The thing he’s got going is personality. If he gets interviewed by those guys, that’s going to go as far as those other things.”
Even with all of those positives, Kelley knows the odds are against Garcia, because the odds are against anybody trying to get an NFL job.
“You’ve got to be at the right place at the right time — and the right people have got to see you,” Kelley said. “And then when you get your chance, you’ve got to prove it.”
McNeill is sure Garcia will prove it — but he said he’d draft Garcia no matter what his 40-yard times or vertical leaps measure.
“Football doesn’t totally revolve around those items,” McNeill said. “The tougher the competition, the higher the level of Joe’s play.
There’s not many players that carry that distinction.
“He’s going to be sorely missed on our defense; he’ll be sorely missed on our program. I’m trying to find another Joe Garcia right now. If I can find one, I know I’m doing good.”