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National Signing Day 2016: Evaluating new Vols' QB Jarrett Guarantano with Jamie Uyeyama

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The Vols bring another highly rated quarterback to campus in New Jersey 4* Jarrett Guarantano.

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What you need to know

Name Hometown Position Height Weight 247 Composite 247 Position Rank Stars
Jarrett Guarantano Oradell, NJ
QB
6'4
201
0.9612 1
4

Jarrett Guarantano is the top ranked dual-threat quarterback in the nation and a consensus 4* player. A New Jersey native, the Vols outrecruited both Urban Meyer's Ohio State and the hometown favorite Rutgers to secure his commitment. Butch Jones relied on his connection to Guarantano's father James, who played wide receiver for Jones at Rutgers. A top 100 national recruit, Guarantano has ideal size for Tennessee's offensive system and arm strength to spare.

Scouting Guarantano with SB Nation Recruiting Analyst Jamie Uyeyama

Recruiting analyst Jamie Uyeyama of Pac-12 blog Pacific Takes, Notre Dame blog One Foot Down, and his own website, Son of a Coach, was kind enough to answer some questions on Guarantano for Rocky Top Talk. You can read Jamie's initial scouting report here, and our Q&A discussing Guarantano starts immediately below.

Q: Can Guarantano survive as a runner?

Hunter: I've already read your scouting report on Guarantano, so that's probably a good place to start off. Guarantano shows pretty good elusiveness and pocket awareness on tape, but he's a thinly built prospect at 6'4, 200 pounds. He's managed to survive doing a bit of scrambling in high school, but is he going to get killed trying to run in the SEC?

Jamie: If he played as a true freshman he probably wouldn't hold up as a runner, but I think he'll likely have some time to get in the weight room and more than likely redshirt. Considering he also has shown to be a runner that isn't afraid to lower his pad level and initiate contact, he's not physically built at this point to do that kind of thing against SEC defenses. I expect he'll hold up fine as a runner by the time he actually receives some serious playing time at Tennessee.

Q: What can we expect from Guarantano when he throws the ball?

Hunter: The ball really jumps out of Guarantano's hand, but his footwork can be inconsistent. Is he too reliant on using his arm to compensate for sloppy fundamentals? Does he show good touch or does he have Michael Vick disease where every ball comes out at 100 mph?

Jamie: He definitely relies on his arm a lot and can get away with it a lot of the time at Bergen Catholic. He's still got a long way to go with his footwork, but he's going to have time to improve. The hope is that he will make an improvement with his consistency as a senior and it happens with a lot of players. It's easy to forget that a player like him still has a year of high school as well as all of the 7 on 7 that he will likely take part in this spring and summer. He's someone who should also be a candidate to make the Elite 11 finals in July and if he makes it, that will be even more of an opportunity to work with coaches who can help him progress with just about every part of his game, his mechanics included. I saw some touch throws from him as a junior and I expect he'll get better at learning when to take a little bit off his fastball at the appropriate time. I saw him do it more effectively later in his junior season so I wouldn't worry about him ever following in the footsteps of Michael Vick as a passer.

Q: What does he need to do to adjust to playing in the SEC?

Hunter: Guarantano played against a pretty tough football team in St. Peter's Prep-- what did he do to adjust his game to a defense that didn't let him get comfortable, and what can that tell us about his transition to the college level?

Jamie: I think that game against St. Peter's Prep showed that he is like most young quarterbacks. When the first read isn't there, he's not nearly as sharp with his accuracy and ball placement. It forced him to be patient and and wait a bit longer for things to develop and that essentially took him out of his comfort zone. I watched that game when it originally happened and it was not a great game for anyone on his team. Not that St. Peter's Prep has an SEC defense, but they were probably the best team Guarantano had to face all season. Just like a Tennessee quarterback who has to face an Alabama defense, it's going to be much more difficult facing the Crimson Tide than it would be facing Western Carolina. He had to use his feet more than he previously did. It forced him to go through progressions and hit the receiver underneath rather than the deep route. He had to adjust his game in order to compete. The defensive backs on St. Peter's Prep, which included 5* cornerback (and Alabama commitment) Minkah Fitzpatrick, were better than the receivers Guarantano was throwing to as well so that didn't help his cause too much. I don't think it tells you much about his transition to the college level other than he isn't quite ready to hit on all cylinders yet. He took steps to improve when facing other tough teams later in the year and hopefully that keeps continuing on with his senior season and beyond.

Q: His best attribute?

Hunter: Do you have any specific criticisms or praise for him having watched his tape?

Jamie: The biggest praise I have for Guarantano is that he has the kind of arm talent that will allow him to make throws that many other quarterbacks can't. There are plenty of times where a quarterback isn't going to be able to sit in the pocket and throw the ball in rhythm with perfect mechanics. He'll have to throw off his back foot on occasion and might not be able to step into a throw like he wants to. When those situations happen, Guarantano can still get the ball there while other players might only be able to throw up ducks. That's a big plus to have that kind of arm. If he can put the rest of pieces of the puzzle together, the sky is the limit for him.

Q: Compare Guarantano to the guys already in Knoxville

Hunter: How would you compare Guarantano's game to the quarterbacks currently on Tennessee's roster? Josh Dobbs will be a senior by the time he arrives, but 2015 brought Quinten Dormady and Sheriron Jones to campus.

Jamie: I haven't watched film on Dobbs, but I watched both Jones and Dormady last year. Jones has great raw tools, but I thought he would need a couple of years to get some polish. His footwork was inconsistent and he struggled against pressure when I watched him. I always thought he would be someone that benefited from a couple of years of learning before he got to play in college and it looks like that will happen at Tennessee. I think he would have been lost in the shuffle if he had to compete early on in his career even though his upside is great. Even though Dormady played less, there was a bit more advancement to his game in terms of footwork. He's a better athlete than most people would assume because of the injuries, but he is a notch below Jones and Guarantano as a runner in my opinion. He doesn't have the arm Guarantano has, but I thought he was further ahead in the pocket. I don't think it would be a stretch to see any of them eventually emerge as the starter at Tennessee in a couple of years, but Guaranatano has the most upside in my opinion.

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