Seattle Seahawks

Gardner Minshew has at the NFL combine what he had at WSU: Fun, with his football

Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew II runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew II runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) AP

On the Palouse. In the crucible of the NFL combine. Doesn’t matter.

Gardner Minshew has laughs on and off any field, including at his own expense.

The fun-loving, record-breaking quarterback for Washington State last year ran a relatively pedestrian 4.97-second 40-yard dash at the combine this weekend. After all, throwing, not running, is his game.

At the end of his “dash,” microphones for NFL Network picked up Minshew joking and saying “all gas.”

“That’s all I got,” he said.

Minshew was the Pac-12 offensive player of the year in coach Mike Leach’s “Air Raid” offense last season while leading WSU to the first 11-win season in program history. That was after he had transferred from Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he won a junior-college national championship, to play for and graduate from East Carolina. He then committed for 2018 to Alabama with one year of athletic eligibility remaining. He was going to be a backup quarterback as a graduate transfer for the Crimson Tide.

Then Leach offered him a starting spot in his WSU offense, a paradise for QBs who love to throw pretty much all the time.

“It makes me extremely grateful. I had a lot of people helped me get to where I’m at,” Minshew said. “Washington State giving me the chance. Coach Leach believing in me. All those guys letting me step in and lead on short notice. It has been an incredible year.”

Yes, it has.

The 6-foot-1 Minshew arrived in Pullman last year, learned the offense, his coach and his teammates--then led the nation in passing yards per game (367.6), threw 38 touchdowns and had a completion percentage of 70.7 in Leach’s quick-strike passing game.

“And it’s not done,” Minshew said, looking ahead to the NFL (some project him as a late-round pick or a rookie free agent). “The ride’s only getting better. And I’m excited to see what’s going to happen in this next year.”

Minshew said teams in interviews at the combine have asked him about moving around so much in four years.

“Every single team is going to ask me that, because if you look on paper and see four schools, it doesn’t look great, but there’s reasons behind every one,” he said. “I definitely ended up where I was supposed to be and had some success.”

If teams had asked, they would also have learned Minshew has more skills than just throwing quick-strike passes down a football field.

“I like to cook a little bit,” he said. “Also, I like to do a little wood-working, carpentry kind of stuff. That was more at ECU because I had a shop, I didn’t have a shop at Washington State. But yeah, I like doing that stuff that occupies your mind, keeps you busy on something else.

“Man, throw me on the grill, that’s my specialty. Steaks, burgers, however you like it, I’ll make it for you.”

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.
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