- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
2016 QB Jarrett Guarantano (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic) is used to scouts dissecting his mechanics and fans watching his every move. But he acknowledged it was a little different Saturday when he could feel Bill O'Brien's eyes on his back.
"It's very nerve-wracking to know that type of coach, one of the best quarterback coaches in the country, is watching you," said Guarantano, who already hold a Rutgers offer and is poised to be one of the top QBs in his class. "You don't want to mess up, so you try your best."
O'Brien stood behind the quarterbacks Saturday afternoon, clapping and yelling motivational words after every few passes.
Whether it was 35-yard fades that fell in lock-step with streaking receivers or placing balls where no defender could reach them on comeback routes, Guarantano clearly caught the eyes of the Penn State staff. And PSU clearly grabbed Guarantano's attention.
The quarterback grew up following the in-state school of Rutgers, where his father played football, but he closely followed the Nittany Lions. He'd watch Joe Paterno and his rolled-up khakis on TV, and slowly evolved into a fan. That tradition stuck with Guarantano and he knew, even a few years ago, that PSU would remain one of his top schools through the recruiting process.
So, the 6-foot-2 pocket-passer was admittedly high on the Nittany Lions before his first-ever visit over the weekend. But now his interest is even higher.
"Definitely went above expectations, definitely," Guarantano said. "Growing up, Penn State was always one of my favorite schools because of JoePa and, of course, the tradition. I always loved the atmosphere, the 110,000 fans at the field. And now, knowing that Coach O'Brien is the head coach and also the offensive coordinator and also helping teach quarterbacks, that's a great influence on why they're in my top five."
Guarantano's top schools at this early point include PSU, Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio State and USC. He'll travel to Oklahoma in two weeks for an unofficial visit, and his family is also currently trying to schedule trips to Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan.
He's hoping to catch the coaches' eyes there as much as he did at Penn State. He and his father drove three-and-a-half hours to campus on Friday, and the staff showed him around some before Saturday's camp.
No matter where else Guarantano goes now, he said the PSU visit will likely stick with him -- especially after he stepped foot inside of Beaver Stadium on Friday.
"That was probably my favorite part, being on the field at Penn State after seeing it on TV so much," he said. "You get the real feeling of the atmosphere, being on the field and imagining all the white T-shirts or the navy blue ones.
"It's shocking because, growing up where I grow up, you don't see that much stuff going on. So, as soon as you step foot on that field, it's just mind-blowing."
4dJosh Moyer and Tom VanHaaren