There’s no such thing as a perfect quarterback prospect.
Every potential recruit has both positive attributes and flaws that endear them to coaches and make staffs hesitant all the same. Jarrett Guarantano is no different. But from what he’s seen out of the four-star prospect in games and camps over the past two years, Butch Jones is smiling like he just landed Mr. Right.
The Bergen Catholic (N.J.) star ended his lengthy recruiting process Wednesday, choosing the Vols over Ohio State and Rutgers in a televised selection. Now he’ll bring his blazing speed, strong arm and unshakeable pocket presence to Jones’ high-tempo spread offense in Knoxville.
“He’s a kid that can put the ball down and run with it and pick up yards. He’s a legit 4.5-4.6 (40-yard-dash) kid,” Scout national recruiting analyst Brian Dohn said. “He’s big, he’s got a big arm. His accuracy is good. He can throw on the run. He’s comfortable in the pocket.”
It sounds like the only thing he can’t do is pick up a tuba and play with the band at halftime.
Dohn has been evaluating Guarantano since the Tennessee commit was in eighth grade and lauds his accuracy, command and speed. The New Jersey native showcased those attributes last year when he threw for 1,030 yards and nine touchdowns coupled with nine interceptions and four scores on the ground. All of it came during an injury-riddled season that was his first real shot at leading his Bergen Catholic team under center.
But it’s Guarantano’s performances away from the high school gridiron, however, that have made him the No. 1 quarterback prospect both in New Jersey and the East Region.
“He’s a kid that tests really well," Dohn said. "He’s done phenomenal in the combines. I know a lot of guys criticize him (and say), ‘Oh, he’s a combine guy,’ but he’s never really had a chance in games. Some of the schools he plays against in North Jersey are packed with talent and they don’t have that same caliber of talent, especially in the playmaking spots.”
Lack of talent won’t be a problem at Tennessee. Guarantano will have plenty of skill position players to dish the ball to and defenses won’t be able to simply key in on him to eliminate his playmaking threats. He’s also got one more year to stay healthy and continue to get better at reading defenses and accumulating snaps at the position.
Dohn believes the Scout four-star is primed to take the route other superstar quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston did in redshirting his freshman season to get acclimated with the playbook and soak in the sights and sounds of college football.
“(Guarantano) needs to understand how to read college defenses," Dohn said. "He needs to understand how to watch film as a college quarterback. All of that stuff needs to happen. That’s why I think it would be good for him to redshirt.”
Regardless of what path he does go down when he gets on campus, Guarantano appears to be the total package — a player who has continued to chip away at his constantly improving exterior to reveal a shimmering diamond.
“He’s your typical dual-threat kid who can run really well. He’s got a really strong arm. He throws well on the run. He can throw the deep ball,” Dohn said.
“He’s tough, he’s mentally tough, and he understands the game. When you look at what Butch Jones wants in a quarterback, this is the kid.”