Tennessee football: Jarrett Guarantano in transfer portal; fans should root for him

Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano (2) throws a pass during a game between Alabama and Tennessee at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.102420 Ut Bama Gameaction
Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano (2) throws a pass during a game between Alabama and Tennessee at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.102420 Ut Bama Gameaction /

Jarrett Guarantano is transferring, but he did a lot for the Tennessee football Volunteers.

He had one of the most up and down careers in Tennessee football history. After five years on Rocky Top, fifth-year senior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano is now entering the transfer portal with one year of eligibility left due to the COVID rules that took place this year.

SEC reporter Matt Zenitz of AL.com initially broke the news almost immediately after the Vols were blown out 34-13 at home against the Texas A&M Aggies Saturday. Guarantano was honored in that game for Senior Day despite not playing.

This transfer comes on the heels of Guarantano starting multiple games each of the past four years, including every game for Tennessee football in the 2018 season. Zenitz initially reported the news on Twitter. Guarantano later confirmed the news and wrote a heartfelt, classy message in the process.

Obviously, this year didn’t go the way Guarantano had hoped. After multiple pick-sixes against the Kentucky Wildcats, he came under fire and eventually lost his starting job three games later, against the Florida Gators.

However, Guarantano should be applauded by Vol fans. He played through a tumultuous time in the program’s history and in may ways created some great memories for the program dating back to the 2018 season.

Don’t forget, Guarantano had over 300 yards and two touchdowns in a huge upset at the Auburn Tigers that year. He also did his part to help UT upset the Kentucky Wildcats the same year, which showed lots of promise.

Then, in 2019, he had a rough start, but he was responsible for putting the Vols ahead in every win, including coming off the bench to do so against the South Carolina Gamecocks, UAB Blazers and Kentucky Wildcats and then throwing for over 400 yards against the Missouri Tiger. Guarantano had numerous clutch performances in that 8-5 season.

Yes, this year turned disastrous. However, it’s important to remember that he was failed by multiple coaching staffs over the course of a few years  before this year came, and we can’t ignore the toll that took on him. Given the way he supported his teammates and even other quarterbacks after he was benched, he deserves appreciation.

Wherever he goes after this, everybody should hope Guarantano has a successful season. Nobody can blame him for his decision to transfer, and he’s earned the opportunity to have at least one standout year given what he has gone through.

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Don’t forget that Guarantano was set up to fail immediately. Butch Jones switched from Quinten Dormady to Guarantano with his job on the line back in 2017 and gave Guarantano his first start against Will Muschamp’s best South Carolina team, one that had an elite defense.

That resulted in a disastrous season for Tennessee football, but then Guarantano had to relearn a brand new system when Jeremy Pruitt was hired and brought in Tyson Helton as offensive coordinator. He did that with a horrendous offensive line in 2018 and wasn’t ready. Pruitt should have started graduate transfer quarterback Keller Chryst that year.

Then, after all of that, Pruitt reshuffled the entire staff in 2019. Jim Chaney replaced Helton as offensive coordinator, and Chris Weinke moved over to quarterbacks coach while Tee Martin was brought on as the passing game coordinator.

This year was the first year Guarantano was in his second year with the same offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. However, then COVID hurt his ability to continue to develop with them. Through it all, Guarantano never publicly complained.

As a result, Guarantano should be commended. He completed 61.1 percent of his passes for his career for 6,174 yards, 38 touchdowns and 17 interceptions while averaging just over seven and a half yards an attempt and rushing for five more touchdowns.

Next. Five takeaways from Vols' 34-13 loss to Aggies. dark

Guarantano’s 12-20 record as a starter with Tennessee football isn’t great, but that involved issues far beyond him. It’s also misleading since he was responsible for four wins in games he didn’t start in 2019. In the end, he still gave his all for Rocky Top.