The Cougars may have lost the Apple Cup again, and were handed a second-tier bowl invite despite a 10-2 record, but Gardner Minshew II is going out on top. The graduate transfer was named Monday the 2018 winner of Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the nation’s best college quarterback.
Named after one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, the award has been presented annually since 1987 to the nation’s top college quarterback. Candidates must be a college senior or fourth-year junior on schedule to graduate. Criteria includes character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, leadership qualities and athletic accomplishments.
Minshew completed an astonishing year after transferring from East Carolina, leading the nation in passing yards (4,477) while completing 70.6 percent of his attempts (433-for-613). He had 36 touchdowns (fifth in the nation) against nine interceptions, and added three rushing scores.
In addition to leading the nation in passing yards, Minshew also ranked first in total offense per game (381.7), passing yards per game (373.1) and completions per game (36). Against Arizona, Minshew threw for 473 yards and a school-record and national-best seven touchdown passes. He topped the 300-yard passing mark in 11 games and eclipsed the 400-yard plateau six times.
The native of Brandon, Miss., is also a finalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year and the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.
For the second straight season, a Cougars quarterback has won a national award. In 2017, Luke Falk won the Burlsworth Trophy as the nation’s top walk-on.
The Cougars, who finished 12th in the Associated Press poll, will be in San Antonio’s Alamo Bowl against Dec. 28 against 8-4 Iowa State of the Big 12.