Tennessee quarterback signee Jarrett Guarantano, the top dual-threat quarterback in the nation according to 247Sports, joined RTI Radio with Erik Ainge on Wednesday afternoon. Here’s a transcript of what he said.
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On his relationship with Butch Jones and Mike DeBord:
“Well Coach Butch and I have had a great relationship since even before high school, going back to when he coached my dad when he was in college. When he got the job at Tennessee, I knew they were definitely going to be a contender. As time went on I started to trust and believe in him more and I made Tennessee the place for me.
“And Coach DeBord joined my life after one of the offensive coordinators left and we grew our relationship throughout time and it’s really been a whirlwind with him. He’s probably been to my school six or seven times in the past month and our relationship is strong.”
On how he learned to play quarterback:
“Growing up my dad was really a big influence with the game of football. He probably gave me the initial everything – how to throw and all those things. But as time went on, I have a quarterback coach in Georgia that really took the lead in about sixth grade. Thankfully I went to school with a great offensive coordinator/head coach in Nunzio Campanile, and he did a great job teaching me the game and the Xs and Os and he’s had some great quarterbacks over the years. He had (Matt) Simms that was at Tennessee at one point, so I’m going to be the second quarterback for him that had the opportunity to go play at Tennessee. ”
On his role as a peer recruiter in this class for Tennessee:
“It was tough. I enjoyed it. I had a lot of relationships that grew over time. Some guys chose not to come to Tennessee, but that’s their decision. I have nothing against them. I made my decision. I wanted to go Tennessee – I probably upset some people with that. But definitely gaining friends and relationships with guys who will have the chance to go to the NFL someday. Over time, I grew a relationship with Nigel Warrior. He’s been to Tennessee a few times and I’ve gotten the chance to talk to him. Tyler Byrd even the past few weeks, I’ve been talking to him and Carlin (Fils-Aime). These are some guys I didn’t know so well, so as soon as I started talking to them about Tennessee, we had something in common.”
On his leadership skills:
“Early in life, I wasn’t really that way. I wasn’t really into that. I didn’t really want everybody to turn to me, I just wanted to be one of the guys. But as time grew, I kind of matured and kind of understood that playing the quarterback position, guys were going to look to you and then being a big recruit – even more so. But just being able to go out and go to workout everyday and give it your all, guys just gravitate to you and see how serious you are about your business. Also off the field, if you’re there for the guys, if you’re around them and giving them support, they look to you on the field. That’s just the type of person I was groomed to be, and thankfully now guys look at me that way and hopefully I get the chance to lead the team.”
On the competition at quarterback at Tennessee:
“I say it to everybody – wherever you go, you’ve got to compete. When I was looking through all of the colleges and I looked at the type of players they were signing or the types of players that were on scholarships, it doesn’t really make a difference. Whenever you get the opportunity to go down to school and you get the chance to put the ball in your hand and you’re going to get better everyday. I knew Tennessee was a place where I wanted to get better – I wanted to succeed. It’s going to be hard work and it’s going to be tough, but I think I’ll get through it and compete for the job at some point.”
On how he describes his playing style and who he models his game after:
“I think I kind of have a weird type of playing style. I think I’m more a pass-first type of guy and if it comes down to it, then I’ll be able to run the ball. There aren’t really a lot of guys like it. I think Colin Kaepernick is kind of like in the middle. I think he’s more of a run-first. Cam Newton has shown this year that he throws the ball great, so I think that’s the closest guy to it. I don’t really have the same body type as a Russell Wilson…I like the way that Aaron Rodgers plays the game, just picking up extra yards when he has to and being able to make plays around the pocket with his feet. Those are a few guys I model my game after.”
On what he plans to major in and what he wants to do off the field:
“It’s out of two things, I think I want to either do occupational therapy, which is helping kids with special needs. I’ve had a couple family members with different conditions, and it kind of upsets me a little bit. I definitely want to go in that field and help others. Or sports and recreation management – just being able to help kids out of tough parts get on the field and get away from some of the stuff that is bad at home.”