On most mornings in early August, Jake Garcia would wake up in the furnished apartment he shares with his dad, Randy, at 5 a.m., have breakfast and then drive over to Valdosta High School for a 5:45 a.m. practice. Jake and his dad had to share a rental car, so they did pretty much everything together. Meanwhile, Jake’s mother, Yvonne, was more than 2,300 miles away in the family’s home in Whittier, California.
That’s where Jake lived until about five weeks ago, when the California Interscholastic Federation, the state’s governing body for high school sports, announced that football season would be delayed until at least December because of the coronavirus pandemic, effectively ending Garcia’s senior season before it started.
Enter Rush Propst, the controversial seven-time state champion coach and former star of the MTV reality show Two-A-Days. Now at Georgia powerhouse Valdosta High, Propst had a spot for Garcia, a USC QB commit and the No. 18 player in the ESPN 300. For a transfer student to be immediately eligible under Georgia High School Association rules, he or she must make a bona fide move, in which the student moved simultaneously with the entire parental unit or persons he/she resided with at the former school, and the student and parent or persons residing with the student live in the service area of the new school.
Moving to Georgia wasn’t a problem for Randy, who retired in 2012 after working for 32 years with the Los Angeles Police Department. Yvonne, who works as an administrative assistant, had to remain in California for her job. For Jake to be eligible for one season at Valdosta High, Randy and Yvonne legally separated to meet the Georgia residency rules. According to court records, Randy and Yvonne dissolved their marriage on Aug. 20. They plan to get back together once Jake’s season at Valdosta High ends.