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Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney praises Jarrett Guarantano, gives update on Vols' QB room

In his time in college football, Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has dealt with a lot of quarterbacks.

It's likely, though, that none of them have gone through a roller-coaster like the Vols' Jarrett Guarantano did last season.

From fumbling on the goal line at Alabama, to recovering down the stretch, and even dealing with death threats along the way, Guarantano experienced emotions that finally showed in Tennessee's fifth straight win of 2019.

That night in Columbia, Missouri, tears rolled down Guarantano's face as he recalled the previous few months. 

After such a season, many wondered whether Guarantano would stick around for his senior season on Rocky Top.

He remained.

On Thursday, that decision earned Guarantano some high praise from Jim Chaney, who's in his second stint as Tennessee's offensive coordinator.

When asked about Guarantano and the turmoil he's faced this past year, Chaney didn't hesitate with an answer:

"His actions spoke louder than his words," Chaney said. "His competitive toughness has never been questioned, his resolve to be starting quarterback at Tennessee. He’s a Tennessee Vol, and he wants to win football games.”

Chaney still criticized Guarantano's inconsistency from last season: “He would be the first to admit that. Some expectations might’ve been a little high for him. Whoever we put out there to represent us has got to perform.”

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Still, Chaney's words speak volumes about Guarantano's character and the type of leadership he's displayed.

That will certainly play a role in who takes the field as Tennessee's starter under center in Week 1. But when asked to reveal any rankings, Chaney wouldn't budge.

“Equal reps across the board. Everything’s up in the air," he said. "They’ve got to be put under the fire. They’ll earn that two-spot, three-spot, four-spot. Everything’s competitive, especially at (quarterback).”

Chaney also commended freshman quarterback Harrison Bailey, who only notched two days of practice in the spring before everything shut down due to the coronavirus.

"He’s going to be a solid football player for us," Chaney said. "Yesterday, he threw some very nice balls for us. It’s obvious some of the concepts he has a grasp on. He looks to be like every other freshman quarterback I’ve seen. I’m pleased with him as he continues to develop.”

He discussed J.T. Shrout, too, as well as the quarterback group as a whole.

“By the numbers, he seems to be doing better with the ball," Chaney said. "I think J.T.’s done a really good job of that. It’s just the security of the football. He’s much more familiar with the concepts and where we need him to go.”

“That’s exactly the goal of every quarterback is to get them to run the offense the way we want them to," he continued. "Are we where we need to be? No... but I feel very comfortable and see some growth and development.”

It seems Tennessee's quarterbacks are progressing even better than expected, especially since today means we're less than a month from kickoff.

It should be intriguing, though, to see whether Guarantano's toughness--and the impression it's left on Chaney-- can translate to the field.