Minshew Mania took the country by storm in 2018, when an under-the-radar quarterback transfer named Gardner Minshew II, who could've spent his last year of college at Alabama but instead chose Washington State, dominated college football on the field and in the media. The mustachioed quarterback was the perfect fit in former Washington State coach Mike Leach's air raid system and Minshew played his way to the top of several statistical categories in 2018.
Today, Gardner Minshew is the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL. But before that, he was a legendary college quarterback who put up massive numbers. Here's everything you need to know about Minshew's college career.
The vitals on Gardner Minshew II
Schools: East Carolina, Washington State
Weight: 216 pounds
Years active: 2015-19
Here are Gardner Minshew II's career stats in college. Scroll to the right to view the complete stats.
Where did Gardner Minshew II go to college?
Gardner Minshew started his college career at Troy before transferring to Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he won the NJCAA National Championship, before then enrolling at East Carolina, where he played the following two seasons. For his final year of college, he transferred to the opposite coast to Washington State, where he led the Cougars to an 11-2 record, as Wazzu entered the College Football Playoff discussion and Minshew threw his name in the ring of the Heisman Trophy conversation.
What kind of prospect was Gardner Minshew II in high school?
Minshew attended Brandon (Miss.) High School, where he threw for 9,705 yards and 88 touchdowns in four seasons. Brandon High School played for the 6A state championship in 2012 and he was the No. 70 pro-style quarterback in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite ratings.
What was Gardner Minshew II's record in college?
Minshew's teams went 14-16 in college, including Washington State's 11-2 season with him at quarterback in 2018.
Records set by Gardner Minshew II
- 2018 FBS leader in passing yards per game
- 2018 FBS leader in total offense
- 1st in Washington State history in total offense in a season: 4,898 yards (2018)
- 1st in Washington State history in passing yards in a season: 4,779 yards (2018)
- 1st in Washington State history in 300-yard passing games in a season: 11 games
- T-1st in Washington State history in passing touchdowns in a season: 38 touchdowns (2018)
- 2nd in Washington State history in career completion percentage (minimum 150 attempts): .707
- 9th in Washington State history in career passing touchdowns: 38 touchdowns
- 9th in Washington State history in average yards per play in a season (minimum 100 plays): 6.80 yards per play
- T-9th in FBS history single-game completions: 52 completions (vs. Houston on Nov. 4, 2017)
- 10th in Washington State history in career passing yards: 4,779 yards
- 10th in Washington State history in career completions: 468 completions
- 23rd in FBS history in average passing yards per game in a season: 367.6 yards (2018)
- 23rd in FBS history in career passing efficiency among quarterbacks with 400-499 completions: 147.6
What were some of Gardner Minshew II's best games in college?
Minshew led the country in total offense in his one season with Washington State, so almost every game from Minshew's senior season has a case to be one of his best games. But here are the best of the best.
Washington State vs. Arizona, Nov. 17, 2018
Nearly 20 percent of Minshew's passing touchdowns during the 2018 season came in one game against Arizona. The Washington State gunslinger completed 43-of-55 pass attempts for a season-high 473 passing yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions.
The final score? Washington State 69, Arizona 28.
It could've been much worse, too. The Cougars had 55 points at halftime and they didn't score at all in the third quarter. A 50-yard touchdown from Minshew to Davontavean Martin with 10 seconds left in the first half put Wazzu past the half-century mark. Eleven Cougars caught at least one pass and five players had at least five receptions.
Washington State at Oregon State, Oct. 6, 2018
Minshew completed 30-of-40 passes for 430 passing yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in a 56-37 win. The Cougars scored a touchdown in every quarter, including 21 points in the fourth. Minshew connected with 10 different receivers and four different Cougars were on the receiving end of a Minshew touchdown, including Davontavean Martin, who had eight catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
Washington State at stanford, Oct. 27, 2018
Minshew completed a season-high 80 percent of his passes in the game, going 40-for-50 for 438 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 41-38 win against No. 24 Stanford. Minshew helped his Cougars rally from a 28-14 deficit late in the first half to win on a 42-yard field goal from Blake Mazza in the final 20 seconds of the game.
East Carolina vs. Cincinnati, Nov. 18, 2017
In his second-to-last game at East Carolina, Minshew had a heroic performance, helping the Pirates earn one of just the three victories he played in at the school. Minshew was 31-of-45 passing for 444 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 48-20 win. East Carolina's Trevon Brown was the primary beneficiary of Minshew's stellar performance as Brown finished with nine catches for 270 yards and two scores.
What awards did Gardner Minshew II win in college?
- 2018 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award
- 2018 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year
- 2018 First Team All-Pac-12
- 5th in the 2018 Heisman Trophy voting
What did people say about Gardner Minshew II?
- Theo Lawson of The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington): "Washington State, not Alabama, will be the new destination for East Carolina graduate transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew. Minshew announced his decision to join the Cougars on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, nearly one month after it was reported that the former ECU starter was planning to join Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Alabama's quarterbacks room projects to be the most competitive in the country next season, with 14-game starter Jalen Hurts and national championship game Most Valuable Player Tua Tagovailoa both coming back. WSU's quarterbacks room, on the other hand, is tied for the country's least experienced. Minshew's addition will make him the only Cougars signal-caller who's taken an FBS snap."
- The Tennessean: "Minshew is a graduate transfer who played the past two seasons at East Carolina. The mustachioed Mississippi native originally committed to Alabama, but changed his mind to play for Leach, who asked him 'How'd you like to lead the country in passing?' the first time they met."
- Theo Lawson of The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington): "The QB competition in Pullman is still a five-man race, but East Carolina transfer Gardner Minshew will join the party in August when the team reconvenes for fall camp, so it's unlikely Leach and his staff will name a starter before the summer break."
- The Spokesman-Review: "Day 1 couldn't have gone much better for the East Carolina transfer. Minshew wasn't perfect during the 11-on-11 period, but completed 75 percent of his passes and moved the offense with good tempo and confidence. A few of Minshew's passes fell short of their target, including one that went almost directly into the turf after leaving the QB's hands. But the Mississippi native played with poise and authority."
- USC coach Clay Helton: "You come into the game thinking, 'Oh wow, finally, Luke Falk is gone' and maybe you're going to catch a break. But Gardner Minshew is just as good. What I've been extremely impressed with is not only is he making great decisions, I mean he's completing like 70 percent, but you can tell the confidence that the staff has in him. ... He's a special talent."
- Theo Lawson of The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington): "The list of people enamored with Gardner Minshew seemingly grows just about every time the Washington State quarterback unleashes a pass."
- Former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer: "From a skill standpoint, he's just a really good passer. He has what I call passing proficiency, he has passing traits. He sees it, he throws it early, he can change speeds on the ball, he can deal with people in his lap. He has movement skills, what I call second and third reaction accuracy. ...I coined this phrase here, if you could tie your feet to your eyes. So think of a string going from your eyelids to your shoelaces. And as one moves, the other moves with it. That's the thing a next-level quarterback does — something only half of NFL quarterbacks do now. He does it naturally."
- Theo Lawson of The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington): "The Cougars may have been inactive, but it was anything but a dull week in Pullman. Gardner Minshew raked in national awards for his effort against Oregon State, WSU cracked the Top 25 for the first time this season and ... well, that was it, right?"
- The Spokesman-Review: "The top passer in college football is beginning to receive national recognition for his role in Washington State's 7-1 start to the 2018 season. On Monday, quarterback Gardner Minshew was named one of 20 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, which annually recognizes the best college football player in the country."
- Lauren Kirschman of The News Tribune (Tacoma, Washington): "Led by graduate transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew, the Cougars are 10-1 and sitting at No. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings. Washington State leads the Pac-12 and is 14th in the country in yards per game with 482.3. The Cougars are also first in the nation in passing yards per game with 400.5. And if the success of Washington State's offense is all about the players, it's difficult to imagine a more perfect fit than Minshew."
- Dale Grummert of the Lewiston (Idaho) Tribune: "When a gleeful Minshew barged into the camera frame and tried to plant a mustache on his coach's face, Leach reared back like Little Miss Muffet. As all Washington State football fans know by now, Minshew doesn't give up easily. He concisely explained to Leach what he was doing, and his second stab at pinning the tail on the pirate succeeded."
- Arizona Republic: "But Arizona sure looked like an uninspired club in the first half. Washington State rolled up 407 yards. Cougars quarterback Gardner Minshew II completed 28 of 33 passes for 311 yards and five touchdowns. Arizona's defense was so porous, WSU had only three third-down attempts. The Cougars had nine possessions in the first half and scored touchdowns on eight of them."
- The Spokesman-Review: "Just 50 days ago we all were on top of the world revering the presence of ESPN GameDay in Pullman prior to a great win over Oregon that evening leading to talk of a potential College Football Playoff spot and maybe having Superman Gardner Minshew considered for a Heisman invite. The Apple Cup loomed, yes, but hey, this was totally our year to finally beat the Huskies and Utah for the Pac-12 Championship and return once again to play in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day."
- Theo Lawson of The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington): "The first seven months of the Gardner Minshew era at Washington State have been something to remember. Why would the last days be any different? After strolling into San Antonio wearing a retro 1970s disco outfit that was lent to him by a WSU fan wanting to put it to good use, Minshew has made one statement after another in Texas."