Gardner Minshew’s college odyssey began in Alabama. It nearly ended in the state, too.
The Washington State quarterback will play in Saturday’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, but he was once committed to the Crimson Tide. He chose to attend Alabama as a graduate transfer in February 2018 before backing off that commitment later in spring.
“At the time it looked like one of those guys was leaving and I was walking in as No. 2 and splitting reps 50-50,” Minshew said. “I’ll take my shot with anybody when I get into a competition setting. Then it looked like both of them were staying and it was time for me to look elsewhere.”
His career soared with Wazzu. He was the Pac-12 player of the year in 2018 as the Cougars went 11-2, leading the nation with more than 367 passing yards per game. He led the nation in completions and attempts, and his 38 touchdown passes were the fourth most in the nation.
Alabama wasn’t at the front of his mind during the fall.
“You don’t look backwards,” he said. “Once I decided I was going to Washington State, I didn’t care what Alabama did. I was all in on Washington State.”
Minshew’s college career began when he arrived at Troy as an early enrollee for spring 2015. He had an offer from the Trojans, but ended up as a walk-on when he lost his scholarship following a coaching change. He left in summer 2015 for a junior college, then transferred to East Carolina, where he won the starting quarterback job.
At the end of the 2017, degree in hand, he looked for a new home. He committed to Alabama, imagining himself competing with either Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts for playing time.
“I was going to Alabama,” he said. “The plan was to walk in as the No. 2 because they thought one of the two guys was leaving. I was going to split the reps 50-50. I was going to take my odds there. Neither of the guys left so I found another spot, and Washington State had a great year.”