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Graduate transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew picks Washington State over Alabama

UPDATED: Tue., March 20, 2018, 6:31 p.m.

East Carolina quarterback Gardner Minshew warms up before a  game against Memphis  last November  in Memphis, Tennessee. (Mark Humphrey / Associated Press)
East Carolina quarterback Gardner Minshew warms up before a game against Memphis last November in Memphis, Tennessee. (Mark Humphrey / Associated Press)

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.

Experience isn’t something Minshew lacks. The former ECU quarterback played in 10 games for the Pirates last season, starting in five. He threw for 2,140 yards, completing 57 percent of his passes while tossing 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions. ECU finished the 2017 season with a 3-9 record.

This fall, the Cougars have to replace Luke Falk, the school’s all-time leader in quarterback wins and a Pac-12 record-holder who passed for more yards than anyone else in the league’s history. Tyler Hilinski was Falk’s presumed heir apparent, but the former backup took his own life in January.

According to Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman, Minshew is planning to visit on April 6 and move to Pullman permanently on May 7, meaning he’ll miss the entirety of spring camp in Pullman. The Cougars open their spring slate on Thursday and wrap up on April 24.

Minshew withdrew from ECU in January, citing personal reasons, and opened up his recruitment – primarily to Power Five schools in the South. Alabama was the first to offer, but Feldman reported in February that SEC neighbors Tennessee and Auburn also expressed interest.

Minshew won’t practice with the Cougars until they begin fall camp in August, but he’s already taken steps to learn Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense – a pass-based system invented by one of Leach’s colleagues, Hal Mumme. Feldman reported that Minshew, a native of Brandon, Mississippi, has spent a “few days” with Mumme learning the core concepts of the Air Raid. Mumme is now the offensive coordinator at Jackson State, which is located not far from Minshew’s home in Brandon.

The Cougars have four other scholarship quarterbacks on the current roster. Cammon Cooper, a four-star recruit who broke a handful of state records during his time at Lehi High in Utah, signed with WSU during the NCAA’s early signing period and enrolled there in January. Redshirt junior Trey Tinsley, redshirt freshman Connor Neville, redshirt junior Anthony Gordon and redshirt freshman walk-on John Bledsoe are the other Cougars quarterbacks.


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