Back in 2015, four-star quarterback Jarrett Guarantano sat in the library at Bergen Catholic High School with three hats in front of him — Rutgers, Tennessee, and Ohio State.
The dreams of Scarlet Knights’ fans were derailed when the All-American quarterback picked up the orange hat with “Tennessee” stitched on the front and put it on.
After five years in Knoxville, the Lodi, NJ native has entered the transfer portal and could be on his way back to his home state. Guarantano appeared in 41 games for the Vols, making 32 starts. He finished with 6,174 passing yards and 38 touchdowns in his Tennessee career.
In Greg Schiano’s first year back in Piscataway, he named Noah Vedral the starting quarterback. He led the team in passing yards with 1,253 and touchdowns with nine. Vedral ran into some injury problems late in the season which allowed Artur Sitkowski to see some action. He led the Scarlet Knights to a road victory over Purdue, where he threw for 152 yards and two scores.
The Scarlet Knights played three quarterbacks all season. Offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson used Johnny Langan as a runner throughout the season. He finished with 201 rushing yards and four touchdowns. This season will not count towards a player’s eligibility because of COVID. This means Rutgers could get their full quarterback room back in 2021 but the team will keep their options open.
“One thing at every position, we’re constantly evaluating if there’s opportunity to get better, if there’s opportunity to give us depth,” Schiano said during his news conference back on Dec. 21. “So, I’ll never box ourselves in that we are going to or not going to do something. We’re constantly evaluating every position.”
One position that needs evaluating is the most important on the field. Vedral showed flashes of inconsistency and poor decision making at times this season — think back to the home loss to Illinois. He also showed toughness by taking big hits and attempting to play through injuries.
There is a chance for the Scarlet Knights to have depth under center heading into the 2021 season, especially if they were to add Guarantano. The transfer portal is full this offseason, which means coaches all over the nation will have their hands full.
“There are quarterbacks in the portal. There’s almost darn near every position,” Schiano said. “ I think it is going to be interesting to see how this all plays out with the portal. There are a lot of guys going into that portal and I don’t know where they are all headed. I hope there are enough opportunities for all the guys that are in the portal. I worry that there will be guys that all of a sudden look around that lost the opportunity they had at their current institution and there’s not one as a comparable.”
That should not be the case for Guarantano. The former Bergen Catholic star was one of the three-best prospects coming out of New Jersey as a senior. He was named the nation’s No. 3 dual-threat quarterback and 37th overall prospect, according to Rivals. Both ESPN and 247Sports named Guarantano the fourth-best dual-threat. In 2016, Guarantano was named an Under Armour All-American.
As if Jarrett needs more ties to Rutgers, his father James was inducted into the Scarlet Knights’ football Hall of Fame in 1999. He played for Rutgers from 1989-1992. As a wide receiver, Guarantano was named Second-Team All-Big East in 1991. In 1992, he topped himself by being named First-Team All-Big East and a UPI Honorable Mention All-American.
Schiano has made an impact recruiting in New Jersey during his first year back. In a way, his recruitment of Guarantano began at a young age. The quarterback has known Schiano from the days of his first stint at Rutgers. Guarantano used to attend football camps at Rutgers at as a child. Schiano has made an impact recruiting in New Jersey. He was able to land two four-star prospects in the Class of 2021 in Khayri Banton and Alijah Clark.
If Rutgers is able to march into 2021 with Guarantano under center, this would give them an experienced player that would bring great hopes to the banks. It is easy to see their win total rise once again if Guarantano returns home.
For updates on players from Rutgers who have entered the transfer portal, click here.