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Originally published April 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 23, 2008 at 12:04 AM

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Juan Garcia's UW career could be finished

If Washington center Juan Garcia had known what was about to happen, maybe he would have hesitated before jumping into the pile, giving...

Seattle Times staff reporter

If Washington center Juan Garcia had known what was about to happen, maybe he would have hesitated before jumping into the pile, giving one last try to pave a path for his fullback into the end zone.

"But that's not my style," Garcia said.

No, Garcia carved his reputation at UW with the relentless passion he brought to the football field, something Huskies fans may not see again from him.

Garcia, the leader of UW's offensive line having started the last 25 games at center, said Tuesday there's a chance his college career is over after he was diagnosed with a Lisfranc injury — a complex mid-foot sprain — in his left foot.

Garcia said he is holding out hope that he may be able to return at midseason, or later in the year, even if just for a token appearance.

But the tone of his voice, and the tear that came to his eye as he spoke to reporters, indicated he knows that may be a longshot with what one person close to the situation said is probably a 10-month injury.

"It's just kind of hard knowing that you might never wear the uniform again," Garcia said. "Maybe I can come in for a play or two and say goodbye to the fans and say I was a Husky football player."

Garcia said he is debating two courses for rehab — immediate surgery, which he said would hold out some hope for a mid-to-late-year return; or waiting four weeks to see if it would begin to heal on its own, which might mean a quicker recovery, and then surgery if it doesn't. He said there is a 60 percent chance it won't heal on its own, however, and that delaying surgery would then mean postponing possible recovery that much longer.

The injury is essentially the same as the one that ended Isaiah Stanback's career in October 2006. Stanback returned to play for the Dallas Cowboys last season. But Garcia said that while doctors told him his case isn't as severe as Stanback's, being an offensive linemen and having to constantly push large amounts of weight means his recovery time might be longer.

"I'm a little sad, a little heartbroken," he said, adding he hoped to decide by today. "But I've been here before and I'll move on."

Garcia was entering his sixth year at UW having been granted an additional season of eligibility after missing the 2004 and 2005 seasons with injuries (foot and ankle the first season, shoulder the next).

Garcia had debated declaring for the NFL draft after last season but that he came back because he wanted to become a better player, be remembered as an "elite linemen" at UW, and because he was excited at the team's prospects.

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"I just had a feeling I could have been special," said Garcia, who was a second-team All-Pac-10 pick last year.

Instead, he will likely now be forced to watch from the sidelines after an injury that occurred on a goal line play early in a scrimmage on Friday. Garcia said a UW fullback was stuffed at the line and he jumped into the pile to try to make one final push.

"Then all these guys just jumped in and started pushing the other way and my foot got caught in the rug and my knee started going one way and I just felt it snap and just felt everything rip," he said. "I knew from the get-go it wasn't going to be good."

With Garcia out, sophomore Matt Sedillo will take over as the team's center. Sedillo, a native of Escondido, Calif., was in for just one play at center last season when Garcia was briefly injured against USC, the Huskies scoring on a 10-yard run by Jake Locker.

UW coaches, however, said they will evaluate options after spring practice.

"He [Garcia] is going to be tough to replace," said offensive coordinator Tim Lappano. "But we're going to have to replace him. Life goes on. We'll look at a couple of options once spring ball is over and determine what we've got to do. It's our job to put the best five linemen out on the field. That's what we've got to talk about once this thing is over."

Hasty officially suspended

UW coach Tyrone Willingham announced before practice that running back J.R. Hasty has been officially suspended and is unlikely to return before spring ball. He said he is weighing whether Hasty will be allowed to return, though he wouldn't go into specifics or entertain questions.

Hasty was suspended for the first seven spring practices before being allowed back. Hasty told The Times on Monday he was suspended for missing some offseason workouts. He participated in three practices last week but was again suspended before last Friday's practice. Willingham wanted more time to evaluate whether he had made the right decision in allowing him back, Hasty said.

The former Bellevue High star was expected to contend for playing time with the Huskies needing a replacement for the graduated Louis Rankin.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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