For Ponte Vedra High junior Jake Guarnera, he has been dreaming of playing college football for some time now, and he took a big step forward in making that dream become a reality by announcing his verbal commitment to the University of Michigan.
The announcement came during a ceremony in the Ponte Vedra High auditorium April 28 and was made with a host of family, friends and teammates on hand to celebrate the occasion.
Michigan was one of five schools Guarnera had narrowed it down to before making his final decision, with the others being Penn State, Florida, Rutgers and North Carolina State.
“It got a little stressful at the end and people have no idea how close it was between Michigan and Penn State,” Guarnera said.
According to Guarnera, as an offensive lineman, it was the Wolverines’ recent success that played a huge role in the decision-making process.
“They really have a track record of great development, and I think we can win a title with the class we’re building in 2024,” Guarnera said.
Part of the success includes the Wolverines winning back-to-back Joe Moore Awards, which is given to the most outstanding offensive line unit in college football, and Olusegun Oluwatimi winning the Rimington Trophy given to the nation’s best center.
Although Guarnera plays offensive tackle for the Sharks, he will make the transition to center at the college level. It is a challenge he is ready to embrace.
“I think I’ll fit in perfect at the center spot,” Guarnera said.
The announcement took place after school, which meant he had to go all day with the excitement of making the decision in the back of his mind.
“I woke up really excited and was not looking forward to school,” Guarnera chuckled. “I knew seventh period was going to be super long.”
The recruiting process was one that Guarnera will look back on fondly at the amazing opportunity he was presented with to receive offers and tour campuses and facilities at several top-notch programs across the country.
“It was just so crazy but a lot of fun,” Guarnera said.
However, he is happy to have committed prior to the end of his junior year and is ready to focus on ending his senior season with the Sharks on a high note next fall.
Guarnera is continuing the family tradition of playing football, as his dad, Jim Guarnera, also played college ball at Rutgers University, which was one of Jake’s finalists.
“I started playing football when I was like 5 years old with flag football for two years and then we went to tackle,” Guarnera said. “Other than playing quarterback in flag football, I’ve always been along the line. I played defense and offensive line all the way through middle school, but once I got to high school I’ve been focusing on the o-line.”
One of the unique aspects of the announcement was that Guarnera had five donuts in front of him on the table decorated with each respective school’s colors and logo.
After making his decision, he grabbed the Michigan donut and took a big bite out of it while wearing a Michigan shirt and hat, just in case anyone in the audience was still not sure where he was going.
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