2019 was filled with ups and downs for the Tennessee football program. From the Georgia State meltdown to winning the Gator Bowl the majority of the Vols’ fanbase places the blame on the shoulders of QB Jarrett Guarantano. Let’s first establish that I've made comments of benching the young QB, but what if I told you that he could be the top returning starting QB in the SEC East based on stats? 2019 JG stats weren’t horrible. His bad moments were always louder than his good moments.
JG threw for 2,158 yards with 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions (not the greatest but not the worst). We all realize that he’s not a Tennessee great and, let's be honest, it's really easy to throw the ball up to wide receivers like Juan Jennings and Marquez Calloway. In hindsight, Guarantano should be one of the top returning QB’s with only Kyle Trask and Terry Wilson coming back in the East who is both capable of having big years for their respective teams.
I would say 95% of the fan base would rather have true freshman Harrison Bailey be the day-one starter or perhaps sophomore Brian Maurer. In my opinion, we should have a QB competition.
JG has the experience and potential to lead this team to victories. It says something about Guarantano’s character that he would return to Knoxville for his final season after the majority of us wanted to burn him at the stake after every mistake. But, if he proves his skill through camp shouldn't he be the starter? With a returning heavy offensive line, potential 5-star Cade Maye, some very fast incoming freshman, and a three-headed running back core behind him, why can't JG succeed this year?
I'm not saying he’s going to be perfect, but being in Jim Chaney’s offense for a second straight season and a defense that seems poised for a breakout season Jarrett Guarantano can have a good season. Clearly, his number is better than what we’ve seen on the field, but the talent is there. I'll make a not-so-bold prediction that JG will be the starter despite having Bailey and Maurer behind him.