After much post-National Signing Day hand-wringing over the Tide’s lack of signing a quarterback, Nick Saban proves good to his word by acquiring former East Carolina signal-caller Gardner Minshew.
This past recruiting season scramble for Alabama involved late offers to a Princeton commit and a 3-star gunslinger from Arizona who eventually signed with Iowa State. Some were questioning why the Tide did not add Montgomery native James Foster, who landed in College Station.
When asked a question about quarterbacks during his NSD presser on February 7, Saban replied: “We’ll probably have a quarterback join us some kind of way.” He continued with “rather than reach for somebody we would rather try and solve the issue maybe a different way with a more experienced guy down the road...” Whether Minshew was on the radar at that point, we may never know, but Saban does it again.
Minshew withdrew from East Carolina at the end of January to deal with a family matter in his home state of Mississippi. He earned a communication degree after the fall semester and had been designated as the No. 1 QB entering the upcoming spring practices. The 850 miles from from Greenville, NC to Brandon, MS (outside Jackson) probably proved too far.
Minshew spent his freshman year at Northwest Mississippi C.C. in 2015 before transferring to ECU. At the juco, he completed 223 of 367 attempts for 3,288 yards, 28 TDs, and 5 INTs. His team went 11-1 record and won the 2015 NJCAA National Championship.
In his first season with the Pirates, he played in seven games as the main back-up, with two starts. As a junior, he played behind Duke grad-transfer Thomas Sirk but took over as starter late in the season. His stats in the last four contests were 136-219 (62%) for 1,486 yards, 10 TD, 5 INT.
The Mississippi native made the 167 mile drive to Tuscaloosa last Friday for a visit and came away impressed. It is too late for him to enroll this spring, so the plan is to enroll in the summer. He will not be able to practice with the team this spring, but he can visit the facilities for meetings and take in practices from the sidelines.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is no letter of intent or binding agreement for Minshew to sign with Alabama. If another opportunity were to arise, Minshew would be free to explore those avenues. However by all indications, his decision is solid to the 17-time National Champs.
The rising senior will have two years to play one season, meaning there is potential for him to be around for 2019 as well.