Tennessee Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano hasn’t had the career at UT he probably thought he’d have when he was nation’s top rated dual threat quarterback in 2016.
Guarantano, who will be a redshirt senior in 2020, has been through plenty of ups and downs at Tennessee. He saw the euphoria of beating Florida in Neyland in 2016. He saw the lowest of lows in 2017 when the team collapsed under the leadership of Butch Jones.
The New Jersey native then saw a family friend, Greg Schiano, accept the head coaching job at Tennessee, only to quickly lose it due to fan outrage (which was the best thing to happen to UT).
Guarantano stuck around at Tennessee to play for a coach in 2018 that didn’t recruit him.
And in 2019, Guarantano had probably the toughest, yet most rewarding, season of his football career. The 1-4 start, an ill-advised audible on the goal line at Alabama, getting benched, and then playing a key role in the Vols’ active six game winning streak.
What a roller coaster.
Through it all, Guarantano has received plenty of criticism. He’s been inconsistent, he’s badly missed open wide receivers, etc.
But despite all the adversity, Guarantano has earned the trust of his teammates, by being a team player — even when he was sent to the bench. And by being one of the toughest players to ever line up under center in the SEC.
(I mean, he finished the 2019 season with a broke hand for crying out loud.)
Of course, Guarantano would be the first to tell anyone that he hasn’t lived up to expectations. He has no problem admitting that he needs to be more consistent and that he could be a better leader.
Just check out his message to Vol nation that was posted on Friday.
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) February 14, 2020
It would’ve been easy for Guarantano to leave Knoxville after the 2019 season. Real easy.
Incoming five-star quarterback Harrison Bailey is the expected savior of Tennessee football. Guarantano could’ve transferred somewhere and played immediately (old family friend Schiano is back at Rutgers in JG’s home state).
But he didn’t take the easy way out. Despite the criticism from fans and media last year, Guarantano chose to return to Tennessee in 2020 because he has “unfinished business”.
As Guarantano mentioned in Vol football’s video on Friday, his goal is to help Tennessee reach the SEC Championship game in 2020.
That’s certainly an admirable goal — the Vols haven’t been to the SEC Championship game since 2007 (which they lost to LSU).
Who knows how it’ll all play out. Maybe Guarantano, in his first two year stretch with the same offensive coordinator, will take a massive step forward in 2020. Or maybe it ends up being Bailey who takes control of the quarterback position.
Either way, it’s obvious that Guarantano loves UT. And despite some inconsistent play and bad on-the-field decisions, he’s given his all for Tennessee.
Guarantano meant it when he said “I’m a Tennessee Vol” after the Missouri game last season.
The wins haven’t always been there, but Guarantano’s commitment to the Vols has never wavered.
I think that’s worth appreciating.
Featured image via Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports