Long snapper is arguably the most disrespected position in all of sports. They toil away without much national recognition, but in Logan, UT, things are a little different.
Utah State Aggies’ long snapper, Jacob Garcia, has received multiple preseason accolades, recognizing both his on and off-field work. A passionate cook and philanthropist, he has all the ingredients to be a leader in 2023.
Jacob Garcia Has All the Ingredients to be a Leader for Utah State
“For me, if I can impact one person’s day, my day is made as well,” Garcia explains about his passion for leadership. “I just want to put a smile on people’s faces and lead the next generation into being good people. Nowadays, people look at the negativity in life and around them, rather than the positivity.”
“There’s more positivity than negativity around, I believe,” Garcia continues during a high-energy sit down with College Football Network that confirms that — while they might be the most under-appreciated position in sports — long snappers are the most fun. “I think being positive, being a leader off the field is really big, and using my name beyond football is important too.”
On the day that he sits down with College Football Network, dressed in a lemon-covered shirt that speaks to his colorful character, Garcia is named to the Wuerrfel Trophy watchlist.
It’s his second preseason honor for his work away from the field, having been named as the Utah State nomination for the 32nd AllState AFCA Good Works team.
The two community, character, and academic honors combine with preseason first-team All-Mountain West honors from several outlets to make for an exceptional preseason of recognition for the Utah State standout, a former five-star long-snapping prospect who was the top-ranked player at his position in the 2020 recruiting class.
“It was really special to me,” Garcia says of the national attention for his philanthropic and leadership efforts. “Especially being a long snapper, not many long snappers get their name out there. Usually, if we have a bad snap, then people get to know us. For me, knowing that people know me for my achievements off the field really means something to me.”
Utah State has a rich history intertwined with particularly the AllState AFCA Good Works team, having a streak of recent nominations and several players that were named to the team. Garcia will find out in September if he joins those off-field pioneers, but acknowledges their role and influence in paving the way for players like himself to strive for off-field success.
“Seeing their works was really important,” Garcia explains the impact of Chuckie Keeton and Brandon Bowling. “Keeping that streak going is super important and, honestly, an honor. Seeing those guys, where they are now and the men they’ve become is really cool.”
“Knowing that I could have the potential, one day, to be that great is really cool,” the Utah State long snapper continues. Knowing that the difference they made in the past and carrying it on through time is really cool to see.”
Football, Faith, and Family
While Garcia continues to make a substantial impact in the Logan area as a member of the Utah State football team, the origins of his commitment to community service come from a place more than 750 miles southwest of the home of the Aggies.
A family background and early educational setting in Anaheim, CA, helped shape Garcia’s outlook, principles, and personality.
It starts with Jim and Nancy Garcia, especially the latter. A mom to two boys, she was also a figurehead in the local community whose tireless work for the betterment of others had a profound impact on her son and the man that he would strive to become.
“My family, both, do incredible work in the community,” Garcia begins. “Specifically, my mom works for a non-profit to help at-risk kids get out of bad situations, go to college, get themselves into better situations. Seeing her work through those kids, to create a better life for people motivated me to do the things that I do in the Cache Valley and local community.”
Alongside family, faith and football have played a substantial part in shaping and defining who Garcia has become both on and off the field.
At Servite High School in Anaheim, those three pillars of influence combined to form the most solid of foundations for what the future Utah State long snapper would strive to achieve in all areas of his life.
The school motto is “Credo ut Intelligam,” translating to “I believe, so I understand.” It is a reminder of an emphasis on leadership fuelled by faith that Garcia aims to embody with his community work.
“Their biggest emphasis was building faithful leaders,” Garcia describes the impact of his time at Servite High School.
“Leading through Christ, being Christ-like, is really important to me. I got to lead a bunch of different people, whether it was my football team, or some of my classmates, just through life and got to teach them well. Leading the younger generation is really important to me. It kind of motivates me, pushes me to be better, and hopefully, people will know me as a leader one day.”
His time at Servite also taught Garcia the importance of academics. A scholar-athlete as a senior, which translated effortlessly to his time at Utah State as a two-time Academic All-Mountain West honoree.
Once his time playing football is done, Garcia wants to parlay a major in communication studies into a career as a sports broadcaster, giving him the opportunity to further enhance his already well-developed interpersonal skills.
Formed by family, his commitment to excellence is breaking new ground.
“One of the biggest things I’m most proud of right now is that I’ll graduate in the fall. I’ll end up with my Masters at the age of 22, which is unbelievable for myself. I’ll be the first to graduate from my family from a four-year university. That’s really pushing me to go as far as I can with my academics.”
Garcia Provides Lessons in Leadership and Empanadas
Garcia arrived at Utah State in 2020, citing a “family” environment alongside a scholarship opportunity as to why he chose the Aggies over preferred walk-on options at his Michigan Wolverines or the Washington Huskies.
During that time, he had “the best seat in the house” as the long snapper on the 2021 Mountain West winning team — “The Heart Attack Kids.”
“It was insane, honestly,” Garcia reflects on the 2021 season. “Watching each game through, us fight and find a way to win, was incredible to see. I got to play with guys like Justin Rice and Logan Bonner, great leaders. Seeing them influence us to where we are now, is really cool.”
Leadership is obviously a key component in understanding exactly who Garcia is. From having individual leaders like Bonner and Rice on the 2021 title-winning team, the Utah State long snapper’s biggest takeaway from a less successful 2022 campaign was how a tough season that fell beneath expectations helped galvanize the team and taught them leadership lessons.
“It was definitely tough to see,” Garcia opens up on the 2022 season. “But, we learned a lot from it. We learned a lot of leadership skills, discipline skills, and how to come back from adversity. I think sometimes you expect when you lose a couple of games to bounce straight back, but we obviously struggled. We’re ready to go now. We’re ready to be great again.”
A confluence of influences has shaped Garcia as a leader who wants to make an impact on the younger generation. While he embraces “any opportunity I get to show my face,” a large amount of the work he does in the community centers around impacting the lives of kids, enhancing their potential to be great, and paving the way for the next cycle of faithful leaders.
That work has seen him help resurface a playground so that kids in the Cache Valley have a safe place to play. He’s been active in talking to kids in elementary and middle schools while ensuring that he does the little things right every day — “little things can make a big impact” — rather than focusing on one grandiose charitable gesture.
While he takes pride in doing as much as possible, Garcia lights up when talk turns to a project that predates his time at Utah State. During his time at Servite, he was involved in a project that combined multiple loves in his life.
“I teach cooking classes to people around the community,” Garcia beams. “I think it’s really cool. There was a thing called ‘Her Servants’ Kitchen’ back in high school. What we used to do was cook for the homeless, and I fell in love with cooking through that.”
“My favorite class that I’ve taught is my empanadas class,” the Utah State long snapper continues. “I’m Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and Mexican, so I have a lot of Hispanic blood in me. Peruvian food is really fun to make because there are a lot of Japanese influences. Making everything from scratch, from the dough to the meat, to frying them, is so much fun.”
In many respects, Garcia’s rise to national recognition is much like a recipe.
Take one young man from Anaheim. Add family, faith, and football. Stir in his high school experience and influence. Allow to marinate at Utah State for five years.
The result is a man who contains all the ingredients to be a leader in whatever community he calls home for the rest of his journey.