Spurrier continues to prop open a door for Stephen Garcia’s return

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier continues to have a change of heart when it comes to quarterback Stephen Garcia.

In the past couple weeks, Spurrier's comments toward Garcia have become softer and on Wednesday, during a Gamecock Club Fan Fest stop at Darlington Raceway, Spurrier continued to praise Garcia for taking the right steps to get back on the team.

This after Spurrier had given up hope on his starting quarterback three months ago.

"It seems like he's changed his ways," Spurrier said. "I hope the university lets him back on the team."

Garcia was suspended in April for drinking before an SEC-mandated violence prevention seminar. He also mouthed off during the meeting. Garcia has had several alcohol-related issues. During his first season with the team, Garcia had three alcohol-related arrests. Last March, he was nearly kicked off the team for an incident during the team's bowl week that allegedly involved alcohol and females.

After the incident in April, Spurrier was about at the end of his rope.

But since that suspension, Garcia has been working hard to get back into the good graces of his teammates and coaches. On May 7, Garcia graduated with a degree in sociology and shortly afterward he met with Spurrier to get the process of returning to the team in motion.

Garcia is expected to be reinstated early next week and could start working out with the team as early as Wednesday. However, Garcia will likely be placed on probation while he continues to meet the requirements the university set forth for his reinstatement. One of those requirements includes a school-mandated alcohol abuse treatment program.

If Garcia isn't reinstated, the backups are plenty but there's not a lot of experience. Sophomore Connor Shaw seems to be the heir apparent and has some game experience, but has yet to start a game and was often thrust into bad situations after Garcia was pulled. He does have a good arm, but has struggled with accuracy, especially when pressured.

Dylan Thompson had a nice spring game, but he's not ready to be thrust into the SEC fire and Andrew Clifford hasn't had an opportunity to show whether he could handle the reins of the team.

Garcia has played in 35 games since 2008, including every game in the past two years. More importantly, he's the Gamecocks best chance if they hope to challenge for an SEC title.

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