High School Football

Carolina Forest High quarterback Mason Garcia commits to FBS program in North Carolina

Carolina Forest junior quarterback Mason Garcia throws a pass against the St. James Sharks last season in Myrtle Beach.
Carolina Forest junior quarterback Mason Garcia throws a pass against the St. James Sharks last season in Myrtle Beach. jbell@thesunnews.com

Carolina Forest High quarterback Mason Garcia verbally committed to East Carolina on Friday.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound rising senior has recently garnered attention and boosted his stock by attending spring/summer camps.

According to 247Sports.com, Garcia has been one of the top remaining uncommitted quarterbacks in the class of 2020 and has also received offers from Missouri, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, Akron, Appalachian State, Bowling Green, Charlotte, Colorado State, Kent State and Youngstown State.

Some ACC and SEC programs including Virginia Tech, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama have also shown interest, and he recently took a visit to Alabama. East Carolina was reportedly the first school to offer him a scholarship in June 2018 and he made several visits to the Greenville, North Carolina campus.

Garcia initially announced on Twitter that he would name a preliminary top five on July 3 and keep his recruitment open, but he replaced that tweet on June 27 with a proclamation that he would verbally commit Friday.

Garcia is ranked the No. 20 pro style quarterback prospect in the nation by Rivals.com and a four-star quarterback. Clemson commitment D.J. Uiagalelei of St. John Bosco in California is the only QB in the 2020 class who received five stars from Rivals.

He raised his national profile with impressive performances this spring at both the Rivals Camp Series presented by Adidas in Fort Mill and the Elite Position Training Skills Showcase in Irmo.

As a junior at Carolina Forest, Garcia accounted for 2,100 total yards and 28 touchdowns while being named All-Region 6-5A.

East Carolina finished next to last in the 12-team American Athletic Conference in 2018 with a 3-9 overall record and 1-7 mark in the conference, and fired coach Scottie Montgomery after three consecutive 3-9 seasons.

The Pirates signed Mike Houston to a five-year deal as head coach in December. Houston led James Madison to a 37-6 record in his three years at the school from 2016-18, the 2016 Football Championship Subdivision national title, an appearance in the 2017 championship game, and a 34-14 rout of East Carolina in the 2017 season opener. The Dukes lost in the second round of the FCS playoffs last season. Houston coached at The Citadel from 2014-15.

Garcia became the second current high school quarterback on the Grand Strand to commit to a Power Five Conference school. Myrtle Beach rising senior Luke Doty committed to South Carolina prior to the 2018 football season and helped Myrtle Beach win the Class 4A state championship.

In addition, Conway High rising senior defensive lineman Tonka Hemingway has narrowed his list of prospective schools to five power-conference programs, according to a post on his Twitter page on May 26: South Carolina, North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest and Vanderbilt.

Hemingway, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound National Honor Society student, selected those from a list of offers that included several SEC, ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten schools. He has been visiting each school and is expected to verbally commit before Conway’s season opener at North Myrtle Beach on Aug. 23.

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Alan Blondin covers golf, Coastal Carolina athletics and numerous other sports-related topics that warrant coverage. Well-versed in all things Myrtle Beach, Horry County and the Grand Strand, the Northeastern University journalism school valedictorian has been a sports reporter at The Sun News since 1993, earning eight top-10 Associated Press Sports Editors national writing awards and 18 top-three S.C. Press Association writing awards since 2007.