Reminiscent of 70s and 80s tough-guy quarterbacks, Gardner Minshew is notorious for his off-field antics, bushy mustache, mop off hair and of course the headband. A 6th round pick in this past April’s draft, Minshew has taken the NFL by storm. He wasn’t supposed to be this good, he was supposed to be a career backup. But, when the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars Nick Foles went down with an injury in the first week of the NFL season, he was thrust into the limelight.
In that first game, against the Kansas City Chiefs, Minshew completed 88 percent of his passes, the highest in NFL history for any player with at least 15 attempts making their NFL debut. And Minshew has been knocking it out of the park, week-in, week-out thus far. But who is the man behind the mustache and the partially clothed workouts? (That’s right. He often has hit the weights wearing only a jock, aviator glasses and, of course, the headband. And sometimes he leaves out the jock.)
Flowood Mississippi, 1996; Gardner Minshew was almost born Beowulf Minshew because his grandfather thought it sounded cool (it does). While it never came to fruition that Minshew would be named Beowulf, he was instead named Gardner Minshew II. The only problem with that name was that there is no Gardner Minshew I. You can’t make this stuff up. And this was only the start of his NFL journey, but the headband wearing quarterback was already a legend in my books.
In high school, Minshew played in Brandon Mississippi, where he played for the 6A Brandon Bulldogs from 2011-2014. He became the starter in 2012 as a sophomore where he would start until he graduated. In that first year as a starter, he led the Bulldogs to the Mississippi 6A Championship game, however would lose 23-21. He would finish his high school career with a somewhat impressive stat line of 686 completions, 9,705 Passing Yards and 88 TDs in 52 games played. That December he would commit to play at Troy University.
Gardner Minshew was a college nomad. Before playing a single down with the Troy Trojans and putting on the headband, Minshew transferred back to his home state, Mississippi. Minshew began his college football career in 2015 at Northwest Mississippi Community College. There, He led the team to the NJCAA National Football Championship, passing for 3,228 yards with a 60.8% completion percentage. Minshew then transferred to East Carolina University in 2016 where he started showing off his sense of style and growing the now fabled moustache. Minshew enrolled as a graduate student at Washington State in the fall of 2018. He became immediately eligible under the NCAA's graduate transfer rules.
Minshew helped lead Washington State to a school-record-breaking 11 wins in 2018.
Additionally, Minshew finished fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy, becoming the ninth player in Washington State history to place in the top 10 for the award. While he was a great college player, many were not convinced that it would translate into the pros.
Which leads us to today. Minshew now starting his 5th NFL game because of an injury to the original starter and is making the most of it. But, how? Maybe, its because of his total sense of confidence in himself. That would explain why he wears a headband and aviators while working out. But, the most likely answer: he is one of those former hidden talents, that no one took seriously enough.