Jarrett Guarantano showed some improvement in 2018, as did Tennessee’s team overall. But those improvements weren’t enough to get the Vols back to a bowl game, as UT failed to make it to the postseason for the second-straight season in Jeremy Pruitt’s first year as head coach.
But Guarantano is confident that his fourth season in Knoxville will be much better.
The collegiate division of Pro Football Focus released their final grades for quarterbacks in the SEC on Monday, and they showcased the top five quarterbacks in the SEC based on their grading system. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa came in at No. 1 with a grade of 90.8 overall. Missouri’s Drew Lock (88.8), Georgia’s Jake Fromm (84.7), and Ole Miss’ Jordan Ta’Amu (84.7) rounded out the top four.
In fifth place? That would be none other than Guarantano, who earned a grade of 83.9 according to Pro Football Focus.
Here are the highest-graded quarterbacks from the SEC this season. pic.twitter.com/PGSh8nPa7IZone not found or deactivated.Zone id : 5
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 21, 2019
Guarantano’s placement among SEC quarterbacks is somewhat surprising when you consider who he finished ahead of. According to Pro Football Focus, Guarantano graded out better than Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond, Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur, Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald, and South Carolina’s Jake Bentley. And Guarantano did that with arguably the worst offensive line among Power Five schools this past season.
But placing fifth among the 14 starting SEC quarterbacks isn’t good enough for Guarantano. He wants more.
The rising redshirt junior quarterback quoted the tweet from PFF College and said in all caps “I AM COMING. I PROMISE.”
I AM COMING. I PROMISE. https://t.co/6iHTv79Rza
— Jarrett Guarantano✞ (@BroadwayJay2) January 21, 2019
Last season, Guarantano completed 62.2 percent of his 246 pass attempts for 1,907 yards, 12 touchdowns, and just three interceptions. He started all 12 games for the Vols, though he was knocked out early in games against Alabama and Missouri.
Among the 14 qualifying quarterbacks in the SEC, Guarantano placed seventh in completion percentage, sixth in yards per attempt, 11th in passing yards per game, and 12th in passing touchdowns. But Guarantano did finish with the fewest interceptions thrown in the SEC, tossing only three all season. LSU’s Joe Burrow had the second-fewest, throwing five in 13 games.
But Guarantano also finished last among the 14 qualifying SEC quarterbacks in passing attempts per game, only averaging 20.5 per contest. Kentucky’s Terry Wilson had 20.6 attempts per game, an Georgia’s Jake From averaged 21.9 attempts a game. That certainly helped him cut down on his turnovers, but it’s not the lone reason.
With new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney now on staff and with a handful of highly-rated offensive linemen joining the Vols in the 2019 class, Guarantano should be able to build off the promise he showed in 2018 and have a strong 2019 season.
One thing is for certain: Guarantano is a big believer in himself, and he’s expecting much better from his own play this upcoming season.