Tennessee’s starting quarterback has already been named to one award watch list this preseason. On Monday, he was added to another one.
Redshirt junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano was named to the preseason watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award on Monday. The award is given annually to the top senior or fourth-year quarterback in college football and has been awarded every season since 1987.
Guarantano was already named to the Maxwell Award watch list earlier this offseason, and many analysts are expecting the Vols’ starter to have a breakout campaign in 2019. ESPN has dubbed Guarantano as the most likely “under the radar player” to be a breakout star in college football this upcoming season, and he was rated as the No. 4 quarterback in the entire SEC heading into this season by Pro Football Focus.
The Vols’ starting signal caller showed improvement in 2018 as the full-time starting quarterback, and hopes are high for him and Tennessee’s offense in 2019 as long as the offensive line shows enough improvement.
As a redshirt sophomore, Guarantano started all 12 games for the Vols and finished the season with the best interception rate in the SEC. Guarantano completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 1,907 yards, 12 touchdowns, and just three interceptions on 246 pass attempts in 2019. He helped lead the Vols to an upset road win over a ranked Auburn squad in October, and he was a big reason Tennessee upset a top-15 Kentucky team in Knoxville in November.
Guarantano has started 18 games for the Vols and has appeared in 21 games total. He’s completed 239 of his 385 pass attempts (62.1 percent) for 2,904 yards, 16 touchdowns, and only five interceptions.
The redshirt junior set the school record for most consecutive passes without an interception last year when he attempted 166 passes without having a pass picked off. That shattered the previous record that was held by Casey Clausen when he had a string of 143 attempts without an interception in 2003.
Not only that, but Guarantano’s career interception percentage of 1.30 is on pace to break the school record held by Heath Shuler. For quarterbacks with at least 400 career pass attempts, Shuler holds the school record for lowest interception percentage with a 2.34 ratio.
Tennessee has had a quarterback win the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in the past. Peyton Manning won the award in 1997 in his fourth and final year with the Vols. He also won the Maxwell Award that season and was a consensus First Team All-American.