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Washington State’s Gardner Minshew wins 2018 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award

UPDATED: Mon., Dec. 3, 2018, 2:46 p.m.

Washington State Cougars quarterback Gardner Minshew (16) watches the replay of wide receiver Renard Bell (81) scoring a touchdown on the video-board against Oregon during the first half of a college football game on Saturday, October 20, 2018, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State Cougars quarterback Gardner Minshew (16) watches the replay of wide receiver Renard Bell (81) scoring a touchdown on the video-board against Oregon during the first half of a college football game on Saturday, October 20, 2018, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – Award season is typically a busy time for the top quarterbacks in college football and it’s only getting started for Washington State’s Gardner Minshew.

Minshew, the fifth-year graduate transfer who captured the nation’s attention with eye-popping passing stats and a trademark mustache, has won the 2018 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. The award is given to the nation’s top senior or fourth-year junior quarterback “who best exemplifies character, scholastic and athletic achievement.”

The WSU quarterback, who came to Pullman this spring from East Carolina, beat out four other finalists: West Virginia’s Will Grier, Missouri’s Drew Lock, UCF’s McKenzie Milton and Michigan’s Shea Patterson.

Minshew is also up for a few other awards. Tonight, the Brandon, Mississippi, native will learn if he’ll get a trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony when the finalists are announced on ESPN’s NFL Countdown Show. Additionally, he’s a semifinalist for the Walter Camp Award, given to the nation’s top player, and the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.

Minshew will be honored at a ceremony Friday in Baltimore, Maryland, and taken on a tour of the city, with a stop at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, among other places. The Heisman ceremony takes place the next day at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

Members of the Golden Arm Foundation had already informed Minshew’s parents, Flint and Kim, that he’d won the award when the quarterback received a phone call Monday afternoon from John Unitas Jr., the son of the award’s namesake.

“It’s been fun watching you, my friend,” Unitas Jr. told Minshew on the phone. “You can throw that apple like my father did.”

“It means so much and obviously what the award stands for and who it stands for,” Minshew said. “It’s just such an incredible honor and really makes you think about all the coaches, teammates, everything that have kind of been around me to make this year so successful.”

While leading the Cougars to their first 10-win season in 16 years, Minshew has thrown for 4,477 passing yards – second in the nation behind Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins – and an FBS-leading 373.1 yards per game. He’s thrown 39 touchdown passes compared to nine touchdowns and has a completion percentage of 71. Minshew’s 433 completions and 613 attempts both rank No. 1 in the nation.

Minshew led the Cougars on four game-winning drives, against Utah, Stanford and Cal, and set a school record with seven touchdown passes in WSU’s 69-28 rout of Arizona. He’s also the only quarterback in the country to have eclipsed the 400-yard mark six times.

Should Minshew throw for at least 238 yards in WSU’s postseason game, the Dec. 28 Alamo Bowl against Iowa State, he’ll break Jared Goff’s single-season Pac-12 record. Minshew only needs 121 yards to break the WSU record held by Connor Halliday.

Minshew, the 31st player to receive the Johnny Unitas award, was congratulated on Twitter Monday by Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins, who wrote “@GardnerMinshew5 been fun to watch you ball this year man congrats you deserve it! Wish I could’ve competed against you, I’ll see you soon though.”


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