GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Cristian Garcia has told the story before, but it’s even more impressive now.

Following a Rudy-like narrative arc, Garcia spent the 2014 season working on the Florida football program’s video staff while attending Santa Fe College across town. He ultimately was accepted into UF, earned a spot as a walk-on with the Gators’ scout team in 2015 and worked his way up to actually playing in the final game of that season before later finishing the 2016 campaign as a starting linebacker in the Outback Bowl.

And now he’s a full-fledged scholarship football player, receiving the news from Florida coach Jim McElwain on Sunday afternoon.

“I was so excited. I’m so grateful for it. I really wish it could be all the walk-ons, but I’m very honored that it was me. I’m just so grateful that Coach Mac did that for me,” Garcia said after practice Tuesday.

George Wynn, Florida’s director of football operations, had told Garcia he had somebody who wanted to meet with him after practice Sunday. So after dinner he met Wynn and they headed over to McElwain’s office, where the head coach made it official.

“Coach Mac sat me down and he was like, ‘I just want to let you know I’m putting you on full scholarship,’” Garcia recalled. “I told him I was so grateful, and he’s like, ‘Don’t be grateful or thank me because you earned it. I didn’t give it to you.’ It was just such a fulfilling moment.”

Garcia tweeted a screenshot of his bank account showing a balance of -46 cents prior to receiving the scholarship money.

When your scholarship money drops tomorrow and you had -0.46 cents in your account… So Grateful

— C-GAR (@CrisGarcia99) August 23, 2017

As word spread, Garcia’s teammates took to

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