After the 2020 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl ended, many speculated on what the future for Jarrett Guarantano. It had been such a wild season of triumph and downfalls. Most folks wouldn’t have been able to handle the pressure that came with everything that happened during the Vols season.
Eventually, Guarantano made the decision to play one more season with the Vols. But then Covid-19 changed what his final offseason would look like. Tennessee only completed a few practices during Spring before universities since all students home. That obviously meant the quarterback competition would be put on hold.
Guarantano was sitting at 200 pounds once the season ended in Jacksonville. Recent videos have surfaced and JG isn’t 200 pounds any longer. The senior quarterback has taken advantage of the quarantine and added nearly 30 pounds. Due to the coronavirus, Guarantano had to split his time between QB coaches. He was training with Tony Racioppi in the New Jersey area, but one thing started to pick up, and places were beginning to be shut down, Jarrett hooked up with Quincy Avery in the Atlanta area.
I had the opportunity to speak with QB coach Quincy Avery about Guarantano having the same offensive coordinator for consecutive years. “It’s always critical to have consistency in terms of play-caller. You need to understand why they want to call the things they are calling and what they want you to accomplish with the play call. When you have a good system, you already know what the play-caller wants to call.”
When I asked Quincy how Jarrett was able to handle all of the adversity that has surrounded him over the past few years and taking the necessary steps to be mentally prepared, Avery said, “He seems like he’s really mature so I’m sure he’s going to be fine mentally. Playing for a fan base like Tennessee is tough. They are tough on their quarterbacks. It’s a lot for a college guy; I think he can handle it. I think that it’s something that the fan base should consider though in how they treat their players, especially at the QB position.”
As to what to expect from Guarantano for the 2020 season “I think he’s got all the talent in the world, and he’s going to have a big year,”
I also spoke with QB Coach Tony Racioppi about their game plan for putting on muscle, continuing to work on his footwork, throwing ability, and expectations for Jarrett’s 2020 season.
Here is that Q&A
How have you seen him grow mentally over the past few months since the 2019 season ended?
“Jarrett has always been a very mentally and physically tough football player. Both were obviously tested maybe more than any player in college football last season. He responded to how I thought he would. Worked through it, competed and played his best ball over 2nd half of season.”
What were a few things that you both felt that needed to be worked on this off-season?
“This offseason, we worked on staying more balanced throughout the throwing sequence. Really developing his touch and throwing with anticipation on certain routes and concepts. Keeping his feet in the ground and a great base moving in the pocket.”
How big is it in your opinion that he has the same OC for consecutive years?
“I think it’s huge for him to have the same OC in back to back seasons. Also why I think you saw him be more consistent and have big games at the end of the season. Comfortable in offensive schemes. Pre-snap recognition, pass protection, footwork, and pass concepts in progression vs. certain coverages, etc…”
What was the plan when it came to putting on muscle? I see that he is at 230 right now, compared to the 200 pounds he was at when the season ended.
“He wanted to bulk up to be stronger, stay as healthy as possible, and work hard with his teammates in the weight room. Great spot to show leadership, heart, toughness, and show teammates you want to be the guy and earn respect.”
Lastly, what is your expectation for Jarrett heading into his final season at Tennessee?
“I see him having a tremendous senior season and rising up NFL Draft boards. He’s worked his tail off in the weight room as well as on his fundamentals, footwork, and developing the ability to throw with a different pace. Excited to see him compete, lead, and execute this fall. I’m proud of him for how he handled last season on and off the field. Never doubt the heart of a Champion.”
It sounds like Jarrett Guarantano has taken full advantage of being around and learning from some great QB coaches during these uncertain times. But one thing these coaches continue to agree on is that they expect Guarantano to take full advantage of this season and be a leader for his team.
Time will tell, hopefully, sooner rather than later.