NASHVILLE – Gardner Minshew's path to the National Football League is something out of a story book.
The former Northwest Mississippi Community College standout and national championship winning quarterback carved his own meandering path to the NFL that started as a walk-on at Troy in the spring of 2015 and culminated on Saturday when his name was called.
"I'm fired up, man," Minshew said Saturday after the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him in the sixth round. "All I needed was a chance. When I was a little kid – if you had told me I was getting picked in the NFL Draft, whether it was the first pick or the last pick – it's such a blessing, man. It's such an honor, just to get the opportunity."
Minshew is the 21st former Ranger to be selected in the NFL Draft and first-ever quarterback in school history.
Minshew completed 468 of 662 passes for 4,776 yards and 38 touchdowns against nine interceptions this past season for Washington State. He won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the nation's top senior or fourth-year quarterback and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
The Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and one of the nation's most efficient quarterbacks last season, Minshew led WSU to a program-record 11 wins, capped by a victory over Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl.
Prior to Washington State, Minshew played the 2016-17 seasons at East Carolina and started his career on the field as a Ranger in 2015.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Brandon product was named an NJCAA All-American Honorable Mention, NJCAA All-Region 23 and First Team All-MACJC after throwing for 3,288 yards (third in a single-season) and 28 touchdowns and completing 61 percent of his passes (223 of 367). He led the MACJC and was second in the NJCAA in passing yards and attempts, fourth in completions, fifth in touchdown passes and seventh in passing yards/game.
Minshew showed out in the Rangers' 66-13 thumping of 2nd-ranked Rochester in the NJCAA national championship game, completing 23-of-30 passes for a career-high 421 yards and five touchdowns en route to Mississippi Bowl Committee Player of the Year honors. All told, Minshew guided the Rangers to an unprecedented six wins over nationally-ranked teams during the year and 11-1 record.
Prior to his successful stint with Northwest, Minshew was also a top name in the Mississippi high school ranks at Brandon. As a senior, he helped the Bulldogs to a 12-2 overall record and completed 243 passes for 3,541 yards and 31 touchdowns. He ended his time at Brandon as one of the metro area's most successful quarterbacks with 11,222 career passing yards and 105 total touchdowns.
by Kevin Maloney