South Carolina Football 2011: Stephen Garcia Finally Embracing Leadership Role

Alex RobertsCorrespondent IJuly 19, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  Stephen Garcia #5 of the South Carolina Gamecocks against the Florida State Seminoles during the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl at Georgia Dome on December 31, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

"Word on the streets" is that there is a new sheriff in town in Columbia...and he happens to be an old sheriff. 

Wait, what?

Quarterback Stephen Garcia has apparently turned the page on his old lifestyle, and this time for good. 

It only took five suspensions (joke all you want, but every single incident was very petty, minus the professor's car incident... which he would have been booted from the team for if the professor pressed charges) and the real threat of a bulked up Connor Shaw taking his job for this to occur. 

The players have always loved Stephen. He has always been an excellent student in the classroom, and has performed admirably on the football field. 

Inconsistent... but admirably. By the end of this season he will probably own every one of South Carolina's passing records. 

I have always openly wondered if his teammates loved him because of his leadership qualities, or because of how "cool" of a guy he is. 

My guess would be the former, but now, things look differently. 

He has been named second team All-SEC by coaches, has been coming in to weight training sessions early (his new hero must be Marcus Lattimore), has been leading passing drills, and has given up the bottle. 

His interests may be selfish...he wants a shot at the NFL. 

Whatever the reasons, Stephen knows that the unbelievable amount of preseason hype following this Gamecock team will be all for naught if Stephen "Bad Brett Favre" Garcia shows up in a big game. 

The only person that can stop Stephen is Stephen. He has all the tools...rocket arm, accuracy, mobility, and leadership. If he can grasp the mental aspect of the game, he could finally reach his massive potential. 

If not, he will go down in history as the Gamecock who squandered a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

It's great to be a Gamecock.