Gardner Minshew is an unlikely NFL star.
Ok—star might be a little premature. But the mustachioed Jacksonville Jaguars rookie is completing 73.9% of his passes so far this season, second-best in the NFL. Fans have also been quick to embrace him thanks to his down-to-earth personality and underdog story.
Minshew’s college football career started with him attending Troy University, but he quickly transferred to Northwest Mississippi Community College.
After leading that squad to the NJCAA National Football Championship, he transferred to East Carolina University in 2016.
Minshew’s ideal scenario would’ve involved him redshirting his first season there (as two senior QBs were on the depth chart ahead of him) and then becoming the team’s starting quarterback for the next three seasons.
However, a series of injuries briefly thrust him into action. While Minshew performed admirably, the starter quickly healed up and re-took the job. In Minshew’s mind, he’d just burned a precious year of eligibility on what was essentially one half of football.
Desperate to avoid that scenario, Minshew discovered a medical redshirt would allow him to save that year of eligibility. But for that to work, he could not play in another game that season. He also had to get injured, and fast.
We’ll let Minshew’s interview with the Pardon My Take podcast pick it up from here:
“The only thing I could do was to get a medical redshirt. But if I played in this next game, then that would be off the table. So I get an idea. I go home, I grab a bottle of Jack Daniels and a hammer. And I go back in my room. I take a pull of Jack Daniels and put my hand down on the table and ‘Boom, boom, boom, one-two-three,’ and hit the hell out of my hand. I’m sitting there shaking, but I know it’s not broken, and I did it again. Still nothing at this point and (I) knew it wasn’t broken. So another time, another pull, another three hits and that was all I could take,” says Minshew.
“I couldn’t break my own hand.”
When the ECU coaches asked him about his badly bruised throwing hand, Minshew told them he’d shut it in a car door. Amazingly, he threw for 220 yards and a touchdown the next game.
Minshew would play one more season at ECU before transferring to Washington State University for his final year of eligibility. There, he won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year after leading the Cougars to an 11-2 record.
The Jaguars picked him up in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft—making him the 10th quarterback off the board—and that’s how Minshew Mania came to Jacksonville. Maybe it’s a good thing he didn’t break his hand, after all.
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