Tennessee Vols redshirt junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano hasn’t played up to expectations this season.
And because he hasn’t played well this season, some folks have been quick to voice their disapproval of the former four-star recruit.
It could be argued that Guarantano’s lackluster play was the biggest reason for the Vols’ 0-2 start earlier this year.
But just because Guarantano hasn’t consistently played well this season, doesn’t mean he dislikes playing at Tennessee. And it certainly doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his teammates and coaches.
Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt has been extremely vocal in his support of Guarantano this season — despite the New Jersey native’s struggles.
And I think that’s mostly because Guarantano has strived to give his all for Tennessee and his teammates.
I’m not sure anyone can question Guarantano’s passion or toughness after he made the decision to play against UAB this past weekend. Guarantano had surgery the day after the Vols’ win against South Carolina. Six days later, he played most of the snaps in Tennessee’s win against UAB.
Jarrett Guarantano on playing through the pain: I owe it to my teammates. I don’t like the way I started off the season. My teammates deserve this from me.
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) November 3, 2019
Guarantano is doing what he can to help the Volunteers win football games this year. Does he posses the same talent as some of the top quarterbacks in the country?
No, of course not.
But that doesn’t mean his will to win is any less.
Guarantano’s made some bad decisions this year (most notably the quarterback sneak against Alabama), but he’s also played a key part in wins against Mississippi State, South Carolina and UAB.
And he’ll probably be a key part of Tennessee’s quarterback rotation in the final three games of the season.
Guarantano has welcomed the criticism this season from Pruitt. He knows better than anyone that he hasn’t played as well as folks expected him to play this season.
Guarantano: “I made a stupid mistake in the end zone and I was throwing off my back foot.” I expect Coach Pruitt to coach me hard. It’s not a love-hate thing with him. It’s all love.
— GoVols247 (@GoVols247) November 3, 2019
The hostility directed toward Guarantano, however, is unnecessary and unproductive.
Guarantano wants to win games at Tennessee as much as anyone.
Has he been the best option for the Vols this year?
But thanks to the head injury to true freshman Brian Maurer, and the inexperience of redshirt freshman JT Shrout in a pro-style system, there’s been situations when Pruitt’s had no other choice but to play Guarantano.
I don’t think there’s any doubt that Guarantano is one of the toughest competitors to ever play at Tennessee. The results haven’t been there for him, but it’s not because he didn’t give it his all.
Fans and media should respect that about him.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports