How Did Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew Try To Get A Redshirt Season in College?

Gardner Minshew is only four games into his NFL career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he is already making general managers across the NFL upset that they didn’t take a chance on the rookie quarterback out of Washington State. Minshew and his amazing facial hair fell under the radar in the draft, but he’s making the most of his opportunity now that he’s a starting quarterback on NFL team. Despite that, it wasn’t that long ago that he was trying alternative ways to prolong his college career.

Gardner Minshew’s college career

Gardner Minshew's attempt to gain a redshirt year in college is part of the growing legend around the Jaguars' quarterback.
Gardner Minshew during his East Carolina days. | Michael Berg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While it isn’t totally rare for an NFL player to come out of the community college system, that’s exactly where Gardner Minshew began his college career. 

After committing to Troy, he transferred to Northwest Mississippi Community College. After one year, he transferred to East Carolina. During his two years there, he showed that he had a solid arm and a good eye for the football field, amassing nearly 3,500 yards on 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

It wasn’t until he transferred yet again over to Washington State during his senior year, however, that he began to make waves of a bigger kind. He crushed his numbers from East Carolina, throwing just shy of 4,800 yards for 38 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. That was enough to not only put him on the map for some NFL teams but to get fifth place in Heisman voting. 

It is not a standard college career, but Minshew is not your standard guy. In fact, after transferring to East Carolina, he wanted to get his full four years of eligibility and tried to do so with the help of a hammer. 

Hammering it home, literally

Minshew initially started at East Carolina after the starter went down. He felt like he was bound to rot on the bench for the rest of his season, and he didn’t want to lose a year of eligibility while doing so. That’s when Minshew thought of a loophole. If he could get an injured player red shirt, he could enjoy another year at the school and have a chance to make a name for himself. 

Now, not getting injured is often among the foremost goals of a football player, but Gardner Minshew is no normal player. According to an interview he did on the podcast Pardon My Take, he grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels and a hammer and went to his room. There, he decided to force his way on to the redshirt list:

“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,” Minshew explained. “I’m sitting there shaking, but I know it’s not broken, and I did it again. Still nothing at this point and knew it wasn’t broken. So another time, another pull, another three hits, and that was all I could take. I couldn’t break my own hand.”

Minshew survived the ordeal with only a bruised hand and told his coaches that he slammed it in the car. Eventually got the playing time he deserved, and the rest is history. 

Gardner Minshew moves on to the NFL

With Nick Foles’s early injury, Gardner Minshew took full advantage of the opportunity to step up. Through only four games, he has already thrown for 900 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception. After losing the first two games, the Jaguars have begun to win games, as well, getting a pair versus the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos. While the sample size is small, it appears as though Minshew has another strange chapter in his story. Jacksonville went from hoping Nick Foles stays healthy to knowing it has its quarterback of the future in less than a month.

Thankfully for Minshew, he did not cause any damage when he took that hammer to his hand. The story he told is quite insane, if not a little bit amusing, but it shows the lengths he was willing to go for the game he loves. Hopefully, he learned that there are always better options, too.