SRJC’s Guanella heading to play football at San Jose State

At SRJC, Garrett Guanella, seen during a 2011 game, grew 2 inches and added a lot of muscle. (Photo by CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

At SRJC, Garrett Guanella, seen during a 2011 game, grew 2 inches and added a lot of muscle. (Photo by CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Good thing Garrett Guanella kept growing, as his body caught up with a strong football work ethic, earning the all-state junior college defender a San Jose State scholarship.

The SRJC standout and All-Empire selection out of Cardinal Newman starts classes at San Jose next week as he aims to crack the Spartans’ starting lineup for the 2013 season.

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” Guanella said. “It’s been hard and everything. But I stayed with it.”

Always a strong, tough player, Guanella lacked the weight major college teams look for in a defensive end. Some big name programs showed interest, yet the serious offers came as Guanella added 40 pounds to his frame, while growing a couple of inches during two years at SRJC.

“At any weight he’s a player,” said former SRJC coach Keith Simons. “He had two great years here for us and he’ll have two great years at San Jose State.”

One of the state’s top tacklers this past season, Guanella made the 2012 All-California Community College Football first team for defense.

Guanella was a two-time All-Nor Cal Conference selection, one of the state’s toughest junior college leagues.

Major college programs showed interest Guanella’s first season but wouldn’t commit. Pittsburgh, of the Big East, was close — a wakeup call for Guanella to get serious about his size.

Dedicated to eating more and smarter, Guanella supplemented his improved diet with demanding weightlifting exercises and agility workouts, gradually gaining pounds and muscle.

“It took a lot of time and effort. I just had to pack it on,” said Guanella, now 6-foot-5 and 235pounds.

Standing on the field playing against some of California’s top junior college teams also helped.

Several Pac-12 and other major programs out West were in contact, led by California and Washington State.

Leading a handful of programs offering scholarships was San Jose State. While none were from the Pac-12, Guanella was excited by the Spartans as a program on the rise.

San Jose State went 11-2 this past season, including a Military Bowl win over Bowling Green. The Spartans finished ranked No. 21 in the nation.

Next season, San Jose moves to the Mountain West Conference. Led by national power Boise State, the conference sent five teams to bowl games in 2012.

“I’m ready to make a difference and keep the winning going,” Guanella said. “We’re looking to get back to another bowl game.”

Transferring for the coming semester gets Guanella on campus for spring workouts.

Equally determined in the classroom, Guanella is ahead in his studies coming out of SRJC. He will major in business at San Jose State, in the Silicon Valley.

“Hopefully I can graduate when I’m done playing football,” he said. “It’s a great place.”

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or mike.coit@pressdemocrat.com.

SRJC 2012 Players Make Major College Moves

Garrett Guanella, San Jose State (Cardinal Newman)
Ely Anderson, Old Dominion (Montgomery)
Chris Smith, Old Dominion (Santa Rosa)
Jordan Bergstrom, New Mexico State (Clackamas, Ore.)

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