KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Bigger, stronger, better and just as engaging as when he arrived from New Jersey, Jarrett Guarantano opened fall drills with a healthy swagger.
It’s often said the backup quarterback is the most popular player with the fans, and if that’s where Guarantano starts the season, that will certainly be the case.
The likable Vols’ redshirt freshman is competing for the starting job, however, and he’s eager to show coaches how much he has improved since the spring.
“There’s nothing I want more than being the starting quarterback at Tennessee,” said Guarantano, the No. 1-ranked dual-threat QB in the 2016 signing class. “I think in the summertime we got a lot done, we were able to do some 7-on-7 with the team and I was able to go back and watch some of the film from the spring time, and I think that helped me out a lot.”
— Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) July 29, 2017
Vols coach Butch Jones has said he’s willing to play two quarterbacks, something Guarantano said would be fine with him.
“Whatever helps this team wins,” Guarantano said.”I’m willing to (be part of a two-quarterback system), so whatever happens.”
Jones said Saturday he was pleased with the improvement shown by the three scholarship quarterbacks — Quinten Dormady, Guarantano and true freshman Will McBride.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Guarantano said his decision-making, footbwork and arm strength improved.
“I was able to process things a little bit quicker and able to get extra reps (through 7-on-7) and really figure out what I have to do to get better,” Guarantano said. “Footwork and quicker arm strength, that type of stuff.”
As for the added attention and hype surrounding the Tennessee quarterback battle, Guarantano is comfortable handling the spotlight.
“I’m used to the pressure; growing up my dad was always on me, I had a lot of cameras in my face, so I’m kinda of used to it,” Guarantano said. “It was not nearly as much as this here, but I think I can handle it, and I think I’m ready for big stages.”
While Dormady and Guarantano have vastly different personalities — Dormady from a small Texas town, more laid-back compared to the charismatic Guarantano — their relationship is healthy.
“So everyone knows, there’s no bashing, we’re not fighting in the locker room, we’re all cool,” Guarantano said, asked about his relationship with Dormady. “Quinten had a great spring game and had a great spring, he’s been a great teammate for me and I think our friendship is growing as well.
“We’re able to come to each other and have any type of conversation we want.”
Tennessee QB Jarrett Guarantano Orange-and-White Game