PULLMAN – Gardner Minshew may or may not get a trip to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony in December, but either way the Washington State quarterback will join some of the best players in college football at a major awards show next month.
On Monday, Minshew was named one of three finalists for the Davey O’Brien Award, given annually to the best quarterback in the country. That means he’ll have the chance to join Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray at the Dec. 6 Home Depot College Football Awards Show, which will air on ESPN.
“I’m super excited about it, super humbled by it,” Minshew said Monday. “Obviously none of it’s really possible without the guys around me.”
Minshew and the No. 7 Cougars are coming off a 69-28 victory over Arizona that saw the quarterback throw for 473 passes and seven touchdowns while completing 78.2 percent of his attempts.
“This last game was a prime example,” Minshew said. “We had six different guys catch touchdowns, 11 guys catch passes and that was just in the first half. So I’ve been very fortunate to have some of these guys around me to kind of put myself in that position.”
The fifth-year graduate transfer was a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award – handed out to the best player in college football – but was not one of the three finalists announced Monday. West Virginia QB Will Grier joined Tagovailoa and Murray as Maxwell finalists.
In need of a quarterback after Luke Falk’s graduation and Tyler Hilinski’s suicide, WSU coach Mike Leach phoned Minshew in the spring and offered him an opportunity to join the Cougars and contend for the starting job.
Minshew gelled with his new teammates right off the bat and didn’t have much trouble picking up Leach’s playbook during fall camp.
“His intensity and passion for the game was apparent right away,” the WSU coach said. “The deeper we got in camp, the quicker he sorted and picked things up.”
The former East Carolina quarterback is leading the country in multiple passing categories through 11 games. Minshew’s 4,325 passing yards are 494 better than second-place Jordan Ta’amu, of Ole Miss, and he’s tops in the nation in completions (407), attempts (578) and tied for No. 1 with 36 touchdowns.
Minshew’s only thrown seven interceptions this season and has been sacked on just eight occasions. The senior transfer also ranks among the top five in the NCAA in points responsible for (4th, 234) and completion percentage (5th, .704).
Ryan Leaf, in 1997, was the only other Cougar to be named a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award. WSU and Alabama have never had a Davey O’Brien winner, while Oklahoma has had three: Jason White (2003, 2004), Sam Bradford (2008) and Baker Mayfield (2017).
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