Tennessee’s starting quarterback Jarrett Guarantano had his good moments in 2018, but unfortunately most of those good moments were overshadowed by the stagnant ones to end the year. The offense sputtered in the final month of the season, losing back to back games and a chance to go to a bowl in the process.
Still, clear progress was made by Guarantano from 2017 to 2018. However, that bar was extremely low. Here’s where the quarterback room stands entering 2019.
On the roster: Jarrett Guarantano (RS Junior), JT Shrout (RS Freshman)
Outgoing: Keller Chryst, Will McBride (Transfer)
Incoming: Brian Maurer (2019 three-star, plans to sign early)
Futures: Harrison Bailey (2020 four-star commit)
With Chryst out of the picture and a couple of unknowns behind Jarrett Guarantano, this is Guarantano’s show. It’ll be the first time he’s entered the year as the undisputed starter, but he’s also going to be working with his fourth offensive coordinator since stepping on campus at Tennessee.
Tyson Helton has moved on to coach Western Kentucky, meaning a different offense will be coming to Knoxville. There’s something to be said for continuity around a developing quarterback. That’s something Guarantano certainly hasn’t had in Knoxville, at least on the coaching staff.
Another issue surrounding Guarantano was the offensive line in front of him, both in 2017 and 2018. Quite frankly, Guarantano didn’t stand a chance in 2017. It felt that way at times this season as Tennessee lost two starters for the year up front.
When Guarantano got protection, he was still up and down. He was at his best attacking down the field and using Tennessee’s talented receivers. But the offense still felt limited. Guarantano only surpassed 200 yards passing twice all year long, which could explain why Jeremy Pruitt has reportedly interviewed a handful of candidates with a background in the air raid offense.
Tennessee played ball control offense, which Guarantano executed well. The only problem with that was that the Vols couldn’t run the ball consistent enough for that plan to work.
So who is Jarrett Guarantano? He’s probably a serviceable, but limited SEC starter. He’ll get another crack at it in another offense in 2019.
One mildly surprising development of the 2018 season was that we didn’t see any of freshman JT Shrout, especially considering the NCAA’s new redshirt rule. Tennessee opted to play Keller Chryst during mop-up time instead.
Shrout was a three-star prospect that Tennessee was able to flip from Cal during the early signing period in 2017. He didn’t really play in high school until his senior year, but he really impressed at recruiting camps during the summer months last year.
We’ll get our first real exposure to Shrout in the spring. Right now, we just don’t know too much about him.
The 6-3, 184 pound three-star prospect is solid to Tennessee, despite Tyson Helton moving on. He is the 17th rated pro-style passer in the class of 2019, according to 247 Sports. Maurer is expected to sign and enroll early at Tennessee, which will solve the Vols’ number issue after the McBride transfer.
It’s going to be interesting to compare Shrout and Maurer this spring. Each are starting on equal ground from a playing time aspect. A brand new offense may even bring them closer together on the depth chart.
The graduate transfer market will get going this spring and Tennessee could stand to add a veteran arm. The Vols return zero experience at the quarterback position outside of Guarantano, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Pruitt make a play for some more depth.