Versatile Garcia signs with Southwestern football

Running back Marc Garcia had a big senior year on the gridiron for the Brownsville Pace Vikings, and he’ll continue to bring the program pride when his time in green is complete.

On Monday, Garcia signed to play football for Southwestern in Georgetown. The versatile athlete will compete in the American Southwest Conference at the NCAA Division III level and study education.

“It feels really good. It’s an honor to play ball at the next level. This is all I ever dreamed about, and it’s a dream come true,” Garcia said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how dedicated people are to the game, how they work and what they have to do to be a student-athlete and learn that. I just have to work very hard to get playing time and show them I can be successful.”

Garcia scored 10 touchdowns and accumulated 447 rushing yards, 192 receiving yards and 149 yards on kickoff returns in just six games during the 2020 season. But his impact on the team went beyond his abilities on the field.

Garcia embodied a team-first mentality when he moved from wide receiver to running back at the start of the season, and his leadership inspired the players around him. The Vikings have a tradition of retiring the helmet of one player who earned the most prides throughout the season, by performing well on the field and in the classroom, and Garcia received that honor this season.

“That’s a blessing. If you look at the fieldhouse, they have helmets on display and it’s an honor to have mine going up there in (coach Danny Pardo’s) office,” Garcia said.

Pardo lauded Garcia’s athleticism and dedication, which has been on display in track & field this spring. Garcia qualified for the area meet in the 100-meter dash, pole vault and as a member of the 400 and 800 relays. Pardo and Garcia believe the senior’s receiving skills plus the speed and toughness that made him a top running back will help him do well in college football.

“The fact that he catches the ball from the backfield, I think that’s going to be the biggest asset,” Pardo said. “He can get out into space then catch the ball. He’s great in the open field. I think him playing two, three years as a receiver and then transitioning to running back is really going to come in handy. He’s got the tools to do well.”

Garcia said he was inspired to really pursue college football after seeing former Vikings standout receiver Jaylun Garcia sign with Southwestern after the 2019-20 school year.

Now, Marc Garcia takes pride in being the one inspiring other Vikings, like sophomore running back Ivan Gonzales.

“(Gonzales is) a very hard-working guy. He tells me, ‘I look up to you. I want to be like you and even better,’ and that’s what I want. I tell him to work to be better than me, and I have high expectations for him his next two years,” Garcia said.

Pardo said Garcia showed his younger teammates that “it doesn’t matter what size, if you put in the work, it’s going to come.” He praised Garcia for taking it upon himself to get the football players working while the COVID-19 pandemic kept them from school. Pardo said the senior had a positive impact on the program and that his work ethic will help him succeed at the next level.

“We can never duplicate what you’ve done for us,’” Pardo said during the ceremony.

“That’s one of the best qualities about him, that leadership. That means that somewhere on the road he did something good that those kids follow. He never gets in trouble, has good grades, all that, and still being a good athlete. What else can you ask for?”

ccruz@valleystar.com