JACKSONVILLE – Wherever and whenever was fine.
Gardner Minshew made that sentiment clear moments after being selected by the Jaguars in Round 6 of the 2019 NFL Draft, and he made clear he meant it.
“I’m fired up, man,” Minshew said Saturday after the Jaguars made him the fifth selection in Round 6 of the ’19 draft, the No. 178 selection overall.
His path to the NFL helped form that attitude.
Minshew, the 2018 Pac 12 Offensive Player of the Year, earned that honor playing for Washington State University. He played there after spending two years at East Carolina, which he attended after beginning his career at Troy – after which he attended Northwest Mississippi Community College.
“He has a bit of a long story,” Jaguars director of college scouting Mark Ellenz said moments after the selection.
The resume doesn’t tell the whole tale. After passing for 24 touchdowns with 11 interceptions in 2016-2017 at East Carolina, Minshew last offseason considered transferring to the University of Alabama – the idea being to be a reserve and eventually getting into coaching.
But Washington State coach Mike Leach offered Minshew an opportunity to start in an innovative, pass-oriented offense.
Minshew completed 468 of 662 passes for 4,776 yards and 38 touchdowns with nine interceptions this past season, winning the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the nation’s top senior or fourth-year quarterback.
Minshew, who finished fifth in the 2018 Heisman Trophy voting, passed for 8,263 yards and 62 touchdowns with 20 interceptions from 2016 through 2018. He was asked if a year ago he considered the NFL a possibility.
“Possible and likely are two different things,” he said with a laugh. “It’s been crazy the journey I’ve been on, especially this past year. I’m just so blessed, so fortunate to be where I am now.”
Minshew on Saturday credited Leach with trusting him to run the offense to an unusual degree considering it was his first season at WSU. Ellenz said Minshew’s football intelligence was a major reason the Jaguars coveted him.
“He is high energy, loves football, really smart guy – the Wonderlic, the tests that we do, he is highly intelligent,” Ellenz said. “He has played in a lot of different systems. He has picked them up quickly.”
Minshew said he hopes his varied background will help him adapt quickly to the NFL.
“I’ve learned four offenses since I’ve been in college, so I’ve heard it taught four different ways,” Minshew said. “That’s one thing just as far as picking up offenses, but I’ve also been in four different locker rooms. Being the new guy every time, learning how to go in as somebody nobody knows to earning their respect and being a leader and being a captain … that’s something that’s very unique and I think prepares me well for this next step.”
Minshew was asked why he thought he wasn’t drafted earlier.
“I don’t know, and I don’t care,” he said. “All I needed was a chance. Out of high school I had no offers. Out of junior college, I had one offer. … When I was a little kid – if you had told me I was getting picked in the NFL Draft, whether it was the first pick of the last pick – it’s such a blessing, man. It’s such an honor, just to get the opportunity. Wherever I go, as long as I get the chance, I’m excited.”