Newly promoted Rutgers offensive coordinator Ben McDaniels got off to the right start with top 2016 target Jarrett Guarantano from Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic, as the talented four-star quarterback approaches his decision.
Guarantano returned to the Rutgers campus Wednesday, where he received another in-depth evening with everyone from head coach Kyle Flood to athletic director Julie Hermann.
“The essence of the visit was about sitting Jarrett down in a room and letting him meet and watch film with coach [McDaniels],” said James Guarantano, his father. “… This is a very sharp young man, and I don’t say that as a dad, I say that as a player, coach myself. When he goes into a room with a coach, he’s going to flip it. He’s going to be the one interviewing you. He understands, of course, that we have a special relationship there that no one else has. Of course he does. He’s been there since he was a kid, but that doesn’t stop him from looking at it totally objectively.”
The elder Guarantano, who starred as a wide receiver during the Scarlet Knights’ Big East years, praised Rutgers for its honesty when it comes to offensive coordinator.
When 67-year old Ralph Friedgen stepped down this week and McDaniels stepped up, it was not a shock for the Guarantano family.
“The main purpose of getting down there was just to give Jarrett the opportunity to sit down with Ben,” Guarantano said. “They started their relationship a long time before that, obviously, but we thought that Ben at some time was going to be the offensive coordinator. We just didn’t know how long coach Fridge was going to be there, but from the start coach Flood has let Jarrett know that he didn’t see coach Fridge there through Jarrett’s whole career if he was there.”
James Guarantano’s name sits in many areas of the Rutgers record books, as his son is well aware.
When it comes to his son’s recruitment, Guarantano feels comfortable wearing both the mask of the father and the mask of an athlete with five years of professional experience.
“We’ve had many different types of conversations and I say that with a big smile on my face because he’ll ask me very bluntly when he wants a dad answer and when he wants a football coach, player answer,” Guarantano said. “Whatever hat I have to put on to answer his question, he knows his dad doesn’t blow any smoke.”
Guarantano and his son have plenty of positive conversations about Rutgers and the opportunities in state.
“When we look at Rutgers, we truthfully try to take out the emotional aspect,” he said. “That’s hard. His mother got proposed to there. His parents got re-married there. We have nothing but fond memories as a family, and every time we go down there we have nothing but smiles on our face. But my wife and I have to say those are our memories. It doesn’t have to be his too.”
Staying home comes with its risks and drawbacks as well, however.
“Sometimes it can work in a negative way,” Guarantano said. “This kid has been there. There aren’t many baby pictures that he doesn’t have there. My success there, sometimes you’ve got a young man and who knows he wants to hear his father’s name with everything he does? … Wherever he goes, he’s going to be a face of a program as a quarterback and that’s a lot of pressure. Of course, at home, that’s going to be magnified.”
Last week’s unofficial visit to Rutgers, one that the younger Guarantano quickly praised on social media, could be his last as he nears a college decision.
“This is not a knee-jerk reaction when he makes his decision,” his father said. “It’s already been years. He’s tired. He’s fried in regards to everything that’s going on. He’s put so much tough, time, research into it. He’s really done it the right way. This is not a three-year decision. This is a life decision. Ultimately when you pick a college, most likely that’s where you meet your wife. That’s a place where you may settle down.”
“He has great relationships at all three of those places,” Guarantano says. “Coach Butch [Jones] is a real legitimate option down in Tennessee because we’ve got a great relationship, and he knows that I have a great relationship with him too. I sincerely think it will come down to those three.”
Wherever Guarantano chooses, however, the recruited then becomes the recruiter.
“The one thing I’ve been taken back by in such a positive way is how influential he is,” Guarantano said. “… This young man is on the sidelines at Rutgers, Tennessee, Ohio State and he has great relationships with the receivers and linemen and running backs. They’re all very, very interested in where he’s going. When he pulls that trigger, without a shadow of a doubt, there’s going to be a lot of dominoes that fall afterwards.”