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Washington State QB Gardner Minshew named to Johnny Unitas Golden Arm watch list

WSU graduate transfer quarterback Gardner Minshew (16) throws during practice on Friday, August 3, 2018, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – Gardner Minshew, who’s still trying to clamp down QB1 duties at Washington State, appeared Monday on a list featuring some of the country’s top starting quarterbacks when the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award released its annual preseason watch list.

The award, which dates back to 1987, recognizes the best senior or fourth-year junior quarterback in the country and Minshew was one of nine Pac-12 quarterbacks featured on the 49-player watch list.

An East Carolina graduate transfer who threw for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in 10 games last year, Minshew signed with the Cougars this spring, as Mike Leach was looking to add an experienced quarterback to his roster in order to fill the void left by Luke Falk and Tyler Hilinski. No other quarterback on the WSU roster has taken a snap at the FBS level.

Since the Cougars opened fall camp on Aug. 3, Minshew’s been in a hotly-contested position battle with redshirt juniors Trey Tinsley and Anthony Gordon, but the senior did himself a big favor in the team’s most recent scrimmage Friday night at Martin Stadium, completing 11-of-15 passes for 114 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Leach said Minshew looked the best of the three quarterbacks during the scrimmage and noted the Cougars would shave the competition down to two players at some point this week.

The Brandon, Mississippi, native first enrolled at Troy University, but transferred to Northwest Mississippi Community College and then to ECU, where he played two seasons and accumulated 3,487 yards and 24 touchdowns in 17 games, including nine as a starter. After being granted his release from ECU, Minshew committed to Alabama before being offered by Leach and the Cougars.

The other Pac-12 QBs named to the watch list include Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Washington’s Jake Browning, Arizona’s Khalil Tate, Oregon State’s Jake Luton, Arizona State’s Manny Wilkins, Cal’s Ross Bowers, Utah’s Tyler Huntley and Colorado’s Steven Montez.