How Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew became the NFL’s most fascinating rookie


The Jacksonville Jaguars’ new quarterback has taken the NFL by storm, and no, I’m not talking about Nick Foles. Gardner Minshew II was forced into the Jags’ starting quarterback role early in Week 1 after Foles suffered a broken clavicle against the Kansas City Chiefs.

In came Minshew, a sixth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and the rookie did more than just play the role of a sub. Although the Jags lost 40-26 to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ high-powered offense, Minshew set records in his debut. He went 22-of-25 passing, threw a modern-day NFL-record 13 straight completions in a player’s debut, and his 88 completion percentage was the highest Jacksonville franchise history.

Foles, who signed a four-year, $88 million deal with the Jags in March, is now on injured reserve and won’t be eligible to return until Week 11 at the earliest. So for now, Minshew is Jacksonville’s starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.

While Minshew wasn’t projected to be a rookie starter in 2019, the guy who was almost named Beowulf made a name for himself during his college career. His journey to become a starting NFL quarterback has been unconventional — just like Minshew himself.

He started his collegiate career as a JUCO quarterback.

Minshew was three-star prospect from the class of 2015. The Brandon, Miss., native didn’t receive in-state offers from Ole Miss or Mississippi State, and his 2014 commitment to UAB fizzled when the school discontinued the football program that year. He decided to try to walk-on at Troy, where he had an academic scholarship, in the spring of 2015, but he played at Northwest Mississippi C.C. for his freshman fall instead.

That year, he threw for 3,288 yards and 28 touchdowns while leading the Rangers to a NJCAA National Championship. Even at the JUCO level, his mechanics were pretty well-developed:

From there, he transferred to East Carolina in 2016 and played in just seven games for the Pirates, starting a couple of them. The next year he split time with fellow QB Thomas Sirk, and opted to go to Washington State as a graduate transfer after the season. Although Minshew was offered the chance to play at Alabama, Cougs head coach Mike Leach’s pitch was too good to pass up.

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