PULLMAN – For the second consecutive year, Washington State will send a quarterback and an offensive tackle to the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
Gardner Minshew will have the same opportunity as WSU predecessor Luke Falk to wow a large gathering of professional scouts with his arm. Left tackle Andre Dillard will join him at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Jan. 26, 2019, giving the Cougars their second O-line participant in as many years after right tackle Cole Madison made the trip in 2018.
Minshew announced Tuesday afternoon on Twitter that he’d accepted an invitation to compete in the game, which will take place less than 200 miles away from his hometown of Brandon, Mississippi. WSU later confirmed that Dillard, a three-year starter on the offensive line who’s protected Minshew’s blind side this season, had also received an invitation.
Minshew, a fifth-year graduate transfer from East Carolina, is the fourth quarterback to accept an invitation to the game, joining Penn State’s Trace McSorley, North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley and Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson.
Charlotte’s Nate Davis, Boston College’s Chris Lindstrom, N.C. State’s Garrett Bradbury and Mississippi State’s Elgton Jenkins were the only offensive linemen who had accepted invites, according to the Senior Bowl’s website, which had yet to list Minshew or Dillard.
Other Pac-12 players who’d accepted invites, per the website, were Utah’s Marquise Blair and Chase Hansen.
The Reese’s Senior Bowl is regarded as the most prestigious postseason all-star game for college seniors and divides its participants into two teams, the North and the South. The game itself is a showcase, but the practices and interviews held the week leading up to it are just as valuable for players, with a handful of NFL general managers, coaches and scouts in attendance.
Falk and Madison represented WSU in 2018 and both were selected in the NFL Draft – Falk in the seventh round by the Tennessee Titans, Madison in the fifth round by the Green Bay Packers. Falk practiced in Mobile throughout the week leading up to the game and met with NFL scouts, but elected to withdraw from the game because it fell on the same day as the funeral for teammate and fellow QB Tyler Hilinski.
Even after a subpar Apple Cup performance, Minshew still leads the country in passing yards by a wide margin, with 4,477 through 12 games. Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State is next with 4,081 yards. Minshew, a Heisman Trophy candidate, is also tied for fourth in the country with 36 passing touchdowns.
The WSU senior needs 238 yards to break Jared Goff’s single-season Pac-12 record and can accomplish the feat in the Cougars’ bowl game, which will be announced Sunday. Minshew’s 373.1 passing yards per game also lead the country.
Dillard has started in all 38 games for WSU since the beginning of his sophomore season and was named All-Pac-12 Conference honorable mention as a junior. The Woodinville, Washington, native anchored an offensive line that has conceded just 11 sacks this season – a number that ranks ninth nationally.
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