East Carolina transfer QB Gardner Minshew chooses Washington State over Alabama

Last month, former East Carolina starting quarterback Gardner Minshew told Sports Illustrated that he would join the Alabama Crimson Tide as a graduate transfer to not only provide a challenge to Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts and depth to the quarterback room, but to accelerate his coaching career after finishing up his eligibility.

Tuesday, things evidently changed.

Minshew announced on Twitter that he'll take his talents across the country and join Washington State as a graduate transfer instead of the defending national champions.

Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated reported that he will report to campus in May and contend for the starting job in Pullman. 

"This is an opportunity to compete for a (starting) job on a very good team with a staff that I've always looked up to and respected," he told Feldman. "I've got goals as an (aspiring) coach but also as a player, and my goal right now is to get a shot in the NFL. And I think this will give me a good opportunity at that."

The Cougars will be without former starting quarterback Luke Falk. The veteran threw for 3,593 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior in 2017, 4,468 yards and 38 touchdowns as a junior in 2016 and is projected to get a shot at the NFL in 2018. Former Cougar quarterback Tyler Hilinski tragically passed away in mid-January. 

Minshew is a perfect fit for the wide-open offense employed by coach Mike Leach. He averaged 371.5 yards per game and tossed 10 touchdowns in four games as the starter last November for the Pirates, but withdrew from school for personal reasons after the season despite being the projected starter. 

For Alabama, it's a major hit considering the specifics of the spring quarterback battle. Hurts led the Crimson Tide to the College Football Playoff in each of his first two seasons in Tuscaloosa, but was benched in favor of then-true freshman Tagovailoa at halftime of the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship against Georgia. Tagovailoa led the Tide out of a 13-0 hole and to an overtime victory to earn the win and claim the 2017 national championship.

The loser of this spring's quarterback battle in Tuscaloosa could become a transfer risk, and no other quarterback on the current roster has thrown a pass in college. Minshew was expected to provide some insurance for the Crimson Tide, but now Saban is back on the market for a different policy. 

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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