We are less than 60 days until the start of the 2021 season, and a packed Martin Stadium! What better time than now to dive in to the quarterback situation going into Coach Rolo’s second year at the helm. The Cougars have a wide variety of QBs going into the fall. Currently, the depth chart lists five possible candidates for the leader of the offense. Here is a deeper look at each one, with a prediction for starter at the end of the article!
Sophomore #4 Jayden de Laura
- College stats (2020): 78/129, 886 pass yards, five pass TDs, four INTs, 34 rush yards, two rush TDs
In four starts in his true freshman year last season, de Laura did what he could. Starting during a pandemic year, under a first-year head coach, after getting limited time to practice, and being a freshman were all of the hurdles that the Hawaiian had to jump. His best game was surprisingly his first one, against Oregon State back in November of last year. After that performance, people finally saw the human side of de Laura, where he struggled a bit with turnovers and deep ball completions. Jayden was arrested on a misdemeanor DUI charge back in February and was then suspended indefinitely from the program and missed spring ball.
Redshirt Junior #2 Cammon Cooper
- College stats (2020): 11/16, 99 pass yards
Cooper will be going into his third season with WSU as a redshirt junior. The only playing time he has seen was when de Laura struggled towards the end of last year’s four-game season. Cooper, a lefty, is a large frame (6’4, 208 lbs) with speed as a scrambler and can throw well on the run.
Graduate Transfer #18 Jarrett Guarantano
- College stats (2017-2020): 494/808, 6,174 pass yards, 38 pass TDs, 17 INTs, five rush TDs
Guarantano has been the starting quarterback at the University of Tennessee for the past three seasons. He stands at 6’4 and weighs 230 lbs. In 13 games in 2019, JG started every one, throwing for 2,158 yards to go along with 16 TDs. But Volunteer fans were upset that he never really had a “breakout” season. In his seven starts in 2020, he had only six passing touchdowns and four interceptions.
Sophomore #10 Victor Gabalis
Rolovich quoting Gabalis as the “dark horse” in the QB battle post-spring ball. A sophomore quarterback who has a grand opportunity to gain a scholarship later in his career after coming on as a preferred walk-on.
Freshman #16 Xavier Ward
Participated in his first spring ball a few months ago. Ward has the least amount of collegiate experience, but his high school did have a similar “Run ‘n Shoot” offensive scheme.
Summary: Despite de Laura starting all four games under head coach Nick Rolovich in 2020, he did happen to miss all of spring ball due to his suspension. Jarrett Guarantano has played 41 collegiate games, with 32 of those as a starter in the SEC. He had a solid spring but was hurt in the crimson and gray game. The injury was not long-term, and he retuned to practice only three days later. With de Laura’s absence in spring ball, Guarantano had the chance to showcase his skills in the new scheme, where he has abilities scrimmaging, throwing on the run, and decision-making.
Starter – Jarrett Guarantano
Second-string – Jayden de Laura
Third-string – Cammon Cooper
(Photo via WSU Athletics)