COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -Clemson's Willy Korn and South Carolina's Stephen Garcia have long shared dreams of college football success. More recently, it's been the hopes of roughly half the Palmetto State to see those dreams come true.
On Saturday, the two friends will share another milestone - their first college starts.
``It's kind of weird how that worked out,'' Korn said. ``It's really good to see him playing. He's a buddy of mine and I'm really happy to see him find some success.''
Garcia threw for 169 yards and a touchdown in little more than a quarter of action in South Carolina's 24-17 win at Kentucky. It earned him praise from Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier, a start for this weekend's game against No. 13 LSU and a congratulatory text message from Korn.
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Korn and Garcia were two of the most highly regarded prospects coming out of high school. They met at the Elite 11 quarterback camp in 2006 before their senior seasons and stayed in touch, Korn even urging Garcia to come to South Carolina and set up yearly matches between the two in the season-ending rivalry game.
Korn had led Byrnes High to two state titles and endeared himself to Tiger fans by pledging to Clemson before his junior season.
Garcia took Jefferson High in Tampa, Fla., to the title game his sophomore season in the ultra competitive Florida state playoffs. When Garcia decided on South Carolina over Oklahoma and hometown Florida, Gamecock fans figured they finally had the quarterback to ignite Spurrier's ``Cock-'n-Fire'' offense.
Both graduated early and enrolled at school in January 2007 to great hype and anticipation. That's when Korn and Garcia took different paths.
Korn quickly moved up to second on the depth chart. But a shoulder injury eventually led to a redshirt season in 2007. He came into this year a clear No. 2 to the established Harper, who this summer was picked to win the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year award.
This fall, though, the Tigers struggled to a 3-3 start, leading to Korn's elevation.
'm going to be going up against this weekend.''
Garcia had similar goals at South Carolina. However, two arrests in his first six weeks at school got him suspended from spring workouts and he spent last season as a redshirt.
This spring, a rejuvenated, humbled Garcia figured to have his chance to win a starting job, but another run-in with authorities ended those hopes. Garcia was suspended from team activities - and asked to adhere to several off-field guidelines - by the athletic department until Aug. 1.
``I owe it to coach Spurrier and the university for not kicking me out of school. I'm really appreciative that they didn't do that,'' he said. ``I definitely knew this day would come.''
At first, Spurrier downplayed Garcia's progress and said it would be a while before he'd make an impact. Halfway through the season, though, Spurrier thinks it's Garcia's time.
``He can throw the ball beautifully, as we found out last week. He can move around a bit. It was encouraging,'' Spurrier said.
And while it may rankle the most hardcore Tiger and Gamecock fans, Korn and Garcia hope they have more successes to share after Saturday.
``I don't see him at Clemson or me here as any reason not (to) be friends with'' each other, Garcia said.
How about at this year's Clemson game on Nov. 29? Would Garcia cheer if his pal threw three interceptions?
``Oh yeah,'' Garcia said, smiling. ``I'm sure he'd cheer if I threw three picks. That's just the competitive nature that we have, but we're still good friends.''
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