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In midst of QB battle at Washington State, Gage Gubrud named to Unitas Award watch list

Former WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew stands with EWU quarterback transfer Gage Gubrud during spring practice on Thursday, April 4, 2019, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Former WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew stands with EWU quarterback transfer Gage Gubrud during spring practice on Thursday, April 4, 2019, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – Gage Gubrud still faces an uphill battle as it relates to winning Washington State’s starting quarterback job, but the sixth-year graduate transfer’s name was nonetheless included on the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list released Monday.

Gubrud is one 49 quarterbacks to earn a spot on the list and one of nine from the Pac-12 Conference to be included. Players must be redshirt juniors or seniors to be eligible for the award.

After a record-setting season for the Cougars last season, Gardner Minshew became the first WSU player to win the Johnny Unitas award, and former WSU quarterback Luke Falk was a finalist in 2016.

Gubrud, the Eastern Washington transfer and former FCS All-American, enrolled at WSU in February and seemed to be the early favorite to replace Minshew as the starter, considering his body of work at the FCS level and the fact the Cougars didn’t have another QB on the roster with a single career start.

But Sunday night, Leach indicated if WSU opened the season today, the Cougars would play redshirt senior Anthony Gordon, a former junior college transfer who backed up Minshew last season along with Trey Tinsley. Gordon posted better numbers than Gubrud in the two practices that led up to WSU’s second fall scrimmage, then outplayed Gubrud Saturday afternoon.

“If we were to play today, we’d play Gordon,” Leach said Sunday. “But we’ve got some time, too.”

Gubrud was not the only QB on the watch list who still hasn’t received a starting nod – and not the only one from the Pac-12 either.

In fact, Arizona State’s Dillon Sterling-Cole was included on the list nearly a week after Sun Devils freshman Jayden Daniels was named the starter by coach Herm Edwards. Washington’s Jacob Eason is on the list as well, although he’s still entrenched in a competitive battle with Jake Haener. Jake Luton is the favorite to win the job at Oregon State, but the senior still hasn’t received a starting nod from coach Jonathan Smith.

The other Pac-12 quarterbacks on the list included Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Colorado’s Steven Montez, Stanford’s K.J. Costello, Arizona’s Khalil Tate and Utah’s Tyler Huntley.

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