Any fan of Troy football has undoubtedly heard the name Antonio Garcia throughout the historic 2016 season.
The 6’7” offensive tackle helped lead the Trojans to their best start in FBS history and capped off his senior season with a Dollar General Bowl victory. The two-time All-Sun Belt player led the nation’s top offensive line with only seven sacks allowed.
The senior wasn’t quite ready to hand in his pads, however, as he accepted an invite to play on the South team in the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile on Saturday.
Many fans were surprised to see a Troy player participating in a game dominated by Power 5 conferences looking for potential NFL draft picks. Garcia certainly earned the appearance, as he made significant noise regarding the smaller university he was representing.
Garcia is only the 14th Trojan to appear in the game and the first since 2012. During the Senior Bowl practices, Garcia caught the eye of many scouts and saw his draft grade skyrocket through his tough and physical style of play.
“I just want to prove to all the scouts and the coaches that I can compete with anybody and hopefully I’ve been doing a good job at that,” Garcia said during an interview with WFSA News. “I’ve been having a lot of fun competing against the best and I’m just trying day by day to prove myself. It’s definitely different. I feel like I’m getting adjusted to it. The speed is a little different, the guys are a little bigger, but I’m just taking it day by day.”
Garcia is widely considered a potential second round pick, but could find himself going as a first rounder, somewhat unfamiliar territory for the Trojans. Leodius McKelvin represented the Trojans in the first round of the 2008 draft, but an offensive lineman hasn’t been drafted since the turn of the century.
“I just want whoever’s watching to be like, ‘Yeah that kid can play. He can play with anybody,’” Garcia said in an interview with al.com. “And I just want to prove that. That’s my goal.”
Many draft analysis reports suggest the offensive tackle may go earlier than many expect, most likely to a run heavy offense that has holes to fill with fresh talent. Garcia created a lot of buzz during his showing in Mobile and he looks ahead to his next appearance on the draft’s biggest stage, the NFL Combine in March.