Jojo Garcia has been a prep standout, a Gophers recruit, a controversial transfer and, finally, a high school dropout.
Now, Garcia expects to become a college football player.
Garcia, a former East Ridge defensive tackle, said he plans to sign with Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs. He will join former Gopher Jeff Jones at Iowa Western, which has become something of a pipeline for the Minnesota program.
“They told me that they wanted me,” Garcia told the Star Tribune this week. “I haven’t heard that in two years. When I heard that, I couldn’t believe it.”
Garcia committed to Minnesota in November 2014 and was ranked as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com After helping East Ridge win two section titles, he became surrounded by controversy when he announced last summer he was transferring from East Ridge to Simley.
Garcia was ineligible to play football after a residency dispute that resulted in East Ridge forfeiting all its victories from the 2013 and 2014 seasons. East Ridge coach Mike Pendino and athletic director Jon Hinzman resigned in the aftermath.
Garcia said he spent the fall semester making brief stints at Simley and Humboldt but could not compete in athletics. Although there were already questions about whether Garcia would become a Gopher, he decommited from Minnesota on Oct. 28 when coach Jerry Kill announced his retirement because of health concerns. Garcia went as far as to tweet he was going to “hang up the cleats.”
Garcia said he dropped out of school soon after, then spent three weeks with extended family in Florida trying to get his life back on track. Garcia said he became a Christian, completed a GED program and is on track to play at Iowa Western.
“They really believed in me,” Garcia said. “I’m not gonna disappoint them.”