Returning Player Profile: Jarrett Guarantano
Player Profile: Jarrett Guarantano
Jersey Number: 2
Class: Redshirt Senior
Hometown: Lodi, New Jersey
High School: Bergen Catholic
Accolades: 2019 Maxwell Award Preseason Watch List; 2019 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Preseason Watch List; PFF College National and SEC Team of the Week (four times); Maxwell Award National Player of the Week; SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week; CFPA Honorable Mention National Performer of the Week; Manning Star of the Week; Davey O’Brien Great 8; Orange & White Game MVP honors (2018 and 2019)
As A Recruit (Class of 2016)
Hopes were high for Jarrett Guarantano as a young quarterback in high school. The son of a Rutgers legend had earned a 4-star rating on 247Sports, in addition to the organization ranking Guarantano as the top dual-threat quarterback in the nation and the 2nd best player in the state of New Jersey. Rivals and ESPN also joined in on the Jarrett Guarantano hype train back when he was a senior at Bergen Catholic. Rivals rewarded the rising star with a 4-star rating and praised him as the 3rd best quarterback recruit in the nation (2nd best player in New Jersey). Meanwhile, ESPN rated Guarantano as the 4th best quarterback in the country, and the 2nd best player in New Jersey — enough to earn a 4-star ranking.
Being rated so highly by all three of the major recruiting ranking services helped Guarantano dividends in his college selection process, as he was viewed as a hot commodity. The young gunslinger earned offers from elite programs such as Alabama, LSU, and Notre Dame. However, in the end, the decision for Guarantano came down to three colleges: Ohio State, Rutgers (where his father played), and Tennessee. The highly-rated recruit ultimately landed in Knoxville, where he would redshirt his first season and attempt to learn from senior quarterback Josh Dobbs.
As A Player
Guarantano is entering his 5th (and final) year on Rocky Top, as he attempts to finally break through and lead Tennessee to major success. Up to this point, it is no secret that the hot commodity on the recruiting trail has had a bit of trouble adapting to life in the SEC, but it is also well known that he has had his fair share of adversity.
When Guarantano made his Tennessee debut in 2017 after a redshirt season, he was in a tight quarterback competition with his more experienced teammate: Quinten Dormady. For much of the battle, it looked as though either player could take the first snap in Tennessee’s Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game against Georgia Tech, but in the end, head coach Butch Jones decided to go with experience over potential.
While a plurality of Tennessee fans seemed to support the move at the time, that support quickly deteriorated as the Vols began to struggle. After barely squeaking by Georgia Tech in a game where the Yellow Jackets had rushed for 600 yards after two overtimes, a heartbreaking loss to Florida, and a complete and utter oblivion at the hands of Georgia, Guarantano made his debut against Will Muschamp and the South Carolina Gamecocks; the same team that had helped ruin Tennessee’s SEC East title hopes the year prior.
During his first start, Guarantano finished with 133 yards and went 11 of 18 through the air — only putting 9 points on the board, as South Carolina put a last-second drive together to stun Tennessee in Neyland Stadium. Guarantano continued to start throughout the 2017 season until he suffered an injury — leaving Will McBride in the driver’s seat. He finished the season with just 997 passing yards and 4 touchdowns. After the season was completed, Tennessee hired Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt after a wild coaching search that ended up getting an athletic director and a chancellor fired. After the hiring of Pruitt, McBride and Dormady transferred out of Knoxville, leaving Guarantano as the main option for the Vols heading into the 2018 season. Pruitt responded by bringing in Stanford graduate transfer quarterback Keller Chryst, but his playing time was very minimal.
In 2018, Guarantano had a mixed season. At times the Vols looked as though they were on the verge of something special, such as when they stunned Auburn on the plains, or when they defeated No. 11 Kentucky in front of a home crowd. However, at other times, the lack of depth that Butch Jones left really showed, such as when they dropped their final 2 games against Missouri and Vanderbilt to miss out on a bowl game. He finished the year with 1,907 yards and 12 touchdowns — nearly doubling his freshman stats.
As Guarantano and the Vols prepared to enter the 2019 season, the redshirt Junior quarterback was expected to take a major step forward and lead Tennessee to 7 or 8 wins. To the shock of everyone, the Vols started off horrifically; losing to Georgia State, Brigham Young, Florida, and Georgia. Starting 1-4 seemed to be the final nail in the season’s coffin. The Vols decided to bench Guarantano following the loss to Florida, and gave the nod to freshman Brian Maurer in the Vols match-up against Georgia.
Despite their troubles early, Tennessee was able to resurrect their season with a win over Mississippi State, in which Jarrett Guarantano had to come onto the field to relieve Maurer who had suffered a concussion. Guarantano finished that match-up 6 for 7 with 106 yards.
Guarantano was able to reassert himself as Tennessee’s starting quarterback after starting and finishing games against Kentucky, Missouri, Vanderbilt, and Indiana. Despite struggling at various points during the season, he was able to help the Vols finish 8-5 and win the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl; finishing the year with 2,158 yards through the air, 16 touchdowns, and completed 152 of his 257 pass attempts.