Jarrett Guarantano’s 2019 season wasn’t supposed to be like this. The fourth-year junior finally had a veteran play-caller on his side, an improved offensive line and plenty of weapons to utilize on the outside.
After a dreadful start, Guarantano was benched ahead of the Georgia matchup. True freshman Brian Maurer took over, but Guarantano wasn’t written off by the coaching staff. In fact, Jeremy Pruitt said there would come a time where he would have to lead Tennessee to a win.
That took just one week to come true. Guarantano led Tennessee to a win against Mississippi State after Brian Maurer exited the game with a concussion. He had a rough outing against Alabama, but was strong against South Carolina.
With Maurer finally healthy against Kentucky, the freshman returned to the starting lineup. But after a half of ineffective play, Guarantano’s number was called once again.
Once again, he delivered.
“I don’t know why he’s able to do that,” Pruitt said after the game. “I think he’s mature. He knows what we’re trying to do offensively. He’s smart. He done a great job tonight. He’s done a great job coming off the bench all year, that we’ve asked him to do it. I just think he’s a guy that, he wanted to play well tonight and he did. He prepared during the week to do that.”
Complete with a cast on his non-throwing hand, Guarantano threw two touchdowns in the second half. He went 7-8 for 115 yards, capping two scoring drives that ended up being the difference in the game.
It’s been quite the ride for Guarantano, who has taken quite a bit from this fanbase over the last couple of years. His start to 2019 couldn’t have been much worse, but how he’s responded after getting benched has been admirable — especially in today’s transfer portal era.
Guarantano might not even start the last two games, but he’s going to play when Pruitt needs him. Pruitt has never lost trust in Guarantano and that paid dividends once again on Saturday night in Lexington.
Good for you, Jarrett.