This time a year ago, Gardner Minshew was suiting up to play quarterback for Washington State.
This time two years ago, Gardner Minshew was suiting up to play quarterback for East Carolina.
This time three years ago, Gardner Minshew was suiting up to play quarterback for Northwest Mississippi Junior College.
This time five years ago, Gardner Minshew was suiting up to play quarterback for Brandon (Miss.) High School.
Now? Now Gardner Minshew is suiting up to play quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
There are rapid career ascents, and then there’s the path of Minshew, the mustachioed folk hero who’s rocketed from obscurity into the brightest of spotlights.
When Jaguars starter Nick Foles went down early in Jacksonville’s game against Kansas City with what turned out to be a broken collarbone, the Jaguars turned to Minshew. And yeah, the Jaguars got waxed 40-26. But Minshew, at least for one game, gave Jacksonville something it doesn’t often have: hope for the future.
Minshew started his day completing his first 13 passes, the most to start a career in the last 40 years, according to Elias. He finished the day 22 of 25 for 275 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. That’s a solid day for a $30 million-a-year QB; for a guy who’d never taken a pro snap before, it’s downright astounding.
Prior to Sunday, most of the country knew Minshew for two reasons—he turned down a chance to play for Alabama, not wanting to be a third backup to Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, and he once decorated Mike Leach on national TV:
Mike Leach has once again produced possibly the greatest college football interview of all time pic.twitter.com/8Djm3VJ8RI— Paid man gets bored (@cjzero) November 11, 2018
Minshew ran Leach’s Air Raid offense to near-perfection in 2018, leading Wazzu to an 11-2 record while throwing for 4,776 yards and 38 touchdowns. Although that offense doesn’t necessarily translate to an NFL framework — the Arizona Cardinals notwithstanding — the skills Minshew showed, like a precise touch, an ability to anticipate defenders, quickness in getting rid of the ball, are exactly what he’ll need to have success at the pro level.
Plus, he’s a dead ringer for Uncle Rico:
Hell, with the mustache, the comparisons are endless:
Plus, Minshew knows how to handle the postgame media session like a seasoned pro:
Part one of Gardner Minshew’s postgame podium session.— Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR) September 8, 2019
“This is real ball, man. This is real ball... We’ve got some stuff to fix, but we’ve got some stuff to build on too.” pic.twitter.com/G4L2dA2tgQ
Minshew’s first assignment as a starter — assuming he gets the gig, of course — will come against the Houston Texans and J.J. Watt, followed by a Thursday night turn in the NFL’s annual Toilet Bowl, a.k.a. Everybody Gets A National Timeslot, a.k.a. Jaguars vs. Titans. Sure, the odds are long that he’ll come through this stretch with even one win. But if he does, there’ll be mustaches aplenty decorating Jacksonville.
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