One day, the Clovis track coaches submitted a roster for a meet, with “Juan Garza” listed as the thrower.
The athlete in question was Carlos Garza, but the name ended up sticking. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior laughs about the mistake, but doesn’t see much margin for any other mistakes when it comes to Wildcat football and his position at center.
“You have to be two steps ahead,” Garza said. “You have to snap the ball and then you have to block.”
It’s a job he’s had since donning a Wildcat jersey, from freshman to sophomore year. Now, he fills in after the graduation of Lance Lukkar.
“He’s stepped in and done a really good job,” Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley said of Garza. “He makes the right calls, gets the ball snapped.
“He’s definitely athletic, he’s got the best hands of just about any center we’ve had.”
And that’s key, because before ball ever gets to a quarterback, or a running back, or a receiver, it starts with the center.
Also, before he hands the ball to a quarterback, he has to be a quarterback — at least for his Wildcat allies on the offensive line.
“The hardest part is knowing everybody’s job,” Garza said. “If someone messes up the block, you get blamed for not telling them (what was coming).”
Wildcat football aside, Garza follows in family footsteps. Like his sister Lorena Garza, a junior on Eastern New Mexico University’s track team, he’s a thrower on the track and field squad. And like his father, he’s a fan of the Washington Redskins whether he’s watching them on television or playing as them on XBox 360.
He’s planning to attend either the University of New Mexico or Texas Tech to study criminal justice, with the intent of becoming a lawyer.
The biggest adjustment so far for Garza, he’s said, is the speed of the game.
“It’s a lot different than JV,” he said.