College football is full of passionate fans. It’s what makes the sport so great.
And I don’t think there are any college football fans more passionate than Tennessee Vols fans.
I’m sure plenty of non-Vol fans would disagree. But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that I’m right. Most notably, the fact that Tennessee fans completely thwarted the hiring of Greg Schiano in 2017.
That fan uprising likely saved the program from a terrible hire that would’ve essentially been an extension of the Butch Jones era.
Vol fans carry a reputation for having a loud voice on social media. Beyond the Schiano fiasco, UT fans are known to be quite vocal when it comes to defending their program against national writers like Dan Wolken or Dennis Dodd (both of which seem to disparage Tennessee every chance they get).
Sometimes that same passion is used in a way that isn’t always positive.
Specifically, I’m talking about the way a section of the fanbase has treated quarterback Jarrett Guarantano.
I’ve been writing about the Volunteers for nearly eight years. I’ve covered everything from the end of the Derek Dooley era to the bizarre Butch Jones years. And Guarantano is by far the most polarizing player I have written about.
Every time I write something about Guarantano “turning the corner”, I resign myself to the fact that I’m going to see a plethora of comments slamming Guarantano.
And I truly don’t understand it.
Sure, Guarantano has been terribly inconsistent during his time at Tennessee. And he’s had some head-scratching moments (the quarterback sneak against Alabama stands out the most). But Guarantano has remained incredibly loyal to Tennessee. Despite all the adversity he’s faced at UT (including a seemingly endless amount of criticism from his own fan base), he resisted the urge to transfer for his final year of eligibility.
And not only did he stick around at Tennessee, but JG has made it a point to profess his love for being a Vol.
Regardless of what happens on the field, that statement is something that Tennessee fans should appreciate.
I have no idea what the 2020 season will hold for Guarantano, but there’s no doubt he’s been working extremely hard this offseason to get better.
Guarantano isn’t the quarterback who is going to lead the Vols to a national championship. We all know that by now. But he’s incredibly tough (JG played the final part of the 2020 season with a broken bone in his non-throwing hand), he’s a hard worker and he absolutely loves being a Vol.
The New Jersey native might miss some open receivers, but he should be a fan favorite for the way he approaches the game of football while extolling the virtues of being a Tennessee Volunteer.
Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports