Tennessee Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano’s experience on Rocky Top has been like a roller coaster.
There’s been some ups, mostly downs, and he’s pretty much the same player as when he first arrived — tough, but inconsistent.
One of the main reasons that Guarantano hasn’t found success, or has been inconsistent, is because he’s endured a lot of change during his time in Knoxville.
Guarantano, who signed with Tennessee during the 2016 recruiting cycle as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the nation, has played for three different head coaches (including interim head coach Brady Hoke for two games in 2017) and had four different offensive coordinators and four different quarterbacks coaches since arriving at UT.
The 2020 season will be the first time that Guarantano will enter a season not learning a new offense. It’s the first time he won’t be getting accustomed to working with a new position coach.
That’s why I think this could finally be the year that JG puts it all together and delivers on the hype that was attached to him during the recruiting process.
(Well, maybe not the dual-threat part, I don’t think JG is getting any faster.)
Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt seems to agree, judging by his comments during a virtual media session with reporters on Friday.
“Jarrett Guarantano has a really good feel for what we’re trying to get done offensively,” said Pruitt to reporters. “He’s doing a good job taking care of the ball. He’s had six really good days.”
This isn’t quite as strong as the endorsement that Pruitt gave Guarantano last spring when he called JG the Vols’ only “sure starter”, but it’s still significant praise.
Pruitt has faith in Guarantano. He always has. But he’s also not afraid to pull the New Jersey native out of the game when things aren’t going well. It happened multiple times last season.
Guarantano has talent. He wouldn’t have made in the SEC this long as a starter if he didn’t. But he hasn’t been afforded the same luxuries as some of his SEC counterparts.
Going from a sinking ship under Butch Jones to a first-time head coach who is finding his own way isn’t easy. But the Vols have some continuity now and it should be incredibly beneficial for JG.
Now, do I expect Guarantano to go light the college football world on fire?
No, definitely not. If a quarterback does that at Tennesee in the near future it will likely be Harrison Bailey or Kaidon Salter.
But do I think JG can help Tennessee look like the Tennesee of old?
I think he’ll at least get UT closer to that goal this season.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke know Guarantano now. They know how to coach him. They know what plays he can execute in certain situations.
Tennessee is going to set JG up for success this season. Fans shouldn’t be surprised when he has his best season yet as a Vol.
Featured image via Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports