KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Guarantano family pulled out of their New Jersey driveway at 5 a.m. Sunday, father Jim at the wheel as they headed to Rocky Top, site of their famous son’s academic and football future.
Some 11 hours later, Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano emerged from a smoky gray SUV and immediately stepped into the spotlight for an impromptu Facebook Live interview.
If things play out as many expect over the next four or five years, the 6-foot-4, 207-pounder from Bergen Catholic High School figures to be as much an East Tennessee icon as the World’s Fair Park where Guarantano did his arrival interview with SEC Country.
2016 Tennessee football QB signee Jarrett Guarantano arrives in Knoxville!
Posted by Tennessee Volunteers Insiders on Sunday, May 29, 2016
“He’s almost too talented,” former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer told USA Today last August at Nike’s Elite 11 finals in Oregon. “He’s got everything you could ever want.”
And Guarantano, who grew up in the New York metropolitan area in Lodi, N.J., wants very much to be a part of the Tennessee football renaissance under coach Butch Jones.
“I feel like Tennessee is a welcoming place all the way around,” Guarantano said Sunday afternoon. “I really love the Southern living, (and) I’m excited to change my lifestyle. Going from New York to Tennessee will be a big change.”
The change officially begins today, with the vast majority of the Vols’ 2016 signees moving into the dorm leading up to the 6:30 p.m. team meeting.
Guarantano, a Nike Elite 11 finalist and Under Armour All-American, has visited Tennessee enough times to pick up on the differences that await him at the college level.
“Just those two hours of practice every day are really tough; there’s a lot of tension and fast-paced stuff,” said Guarantano, the nation’s No. 1-ranked dual-threat quarterback and No. 77 player overall.
“The Bergen Catholic offense was slow-paced … not much no-huddle,” Guarantano said. “It will be different getting signals and signs from the sideline each play and having to go fast, so that’s an adjustment I’ll have to make quick.”
Senior Joshua Dobbs has command of the Tennessee offense, but Guarantano plans on being prepared for any opportunity.
“Just know I’m going to give my all every day for Tennessee,” he said, “and as time goes on, I’ll get better each and every day.”
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted