How Gardner Minshew, the Jaguars' mustachioed, sixth-round rookie quarterback, became a breakout star and the NFL's most interesting man

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

  • Gardner Minshew has become a breakout star in the NFL.
  • Minshew had an unusual route to the NFL, which included transferring three times in college and nearly quitting.
  • Outside of his on-field performance, he is also beloved for his mustache, sense of humor, and off-field antics.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Gardner Minshew is the breakout star of the NFL season.

The sixth-round rookie has played well for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he's become a star for his iconic mustache, sense of humor, and antics off the field.
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From an unusual route to the NFL, to trying to break his hand in college, to his pregame outfits, here's why Minshew has become a cult hero so early into his career.
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Gardner Minshew was thrust into the spotlight when Nick Foles, who the Jaguars signed to an $88 million contract this offseason, broke his collarbone in Week 1. Suddenly, Minshew was the starter.

Gardner Minshew was thrust into the spotlight when Nick Foles, who the Jaguars signed to an $88 million contract this offseason, broke his collarbone in Week 1. Suddenly, Minshew was the starter.

Minshew didn't shine in the first two weeks of the season, but he had a breakout game in Week 3, as he threw for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns to help the Jags beat the Titans on "Thursday Night Football."

Minshew didn't shine in the first two weeks of the season, but he had a breakout game in Week 3, as he threw for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns to help the Jags beat the Titans on "Thursday Night Football."
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Making Minshew even more of a surprise star, he's had an unlikely, circuitous path to the NFL that saw him nearly give up on playing football.

Making Minshew even more of a surprise star, he's had an unlikely, circuitous path to the NFL that saw him nearly give up on playing football.

Minshew began his college career as a walk-on at Troy University but transferred after one year to Northwest Mississippi Community College.

Minshew began his college career as a walk-on at Troy University but transferred after one year to Northwest Mississippi Community College.

Minshew was told he'd have to compete with the incumbent starting quarterback upon arriving at NWCC. The NWCC coach said Minshew won the job in about a week.

He eventually led the team to a national community college championship.

Source: The Spokesman-Review

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After winning a title at Northwestern Mississippi, Minshew transferred to East Carolina University. Minshew expected to be the third-string quarterback but quickly found himself playing when one quarterback was moved to running back, and the other got injured.

After winning a title at Northwestern Mississippi, Minshew transferred to East Carolina University. Minshew expected to be the third-string quarterback but quickly found himself playing when one quarterback was moved to running back, and the other got injured.

Minshew was faced with a dilemma. He expected to red-shirt for a year but instead was poised to lose a year of eligibility because he played one game. He came up with an idea: break his hand to get a medical red-shirt.

Minshew was faced with a dilemma. He expected to red-shirt for a year but instead was poised to lose a year of eligibility because he played one game. He came up with an idea: break his hand to get a medical red-shirt.

Minshew said he got a bottle of whiskey and a hammer and began hitting his own hand several times. Minshew said he finally gave up because he wasn't able to break his own hand. He told his coaches he slammed it in a car door, and it remained swollen for several weeks.

"I always tell people, 'What would you do to play more ball?' And that's damn near anything," Minshew said recently.

Read more: 'What would you do to play more ball?': Gardner Minshew explains why he attempted to break his own hand with a hammer in college

Source: Pardon My Take

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Minshew ended up having a strong 2017 season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions in 10 games.

Minshew ended up having a strong 2017 season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions in 10 games.

After his junior year, Minshew decided to transfer again, but with a different goal in mind: coaching.

After his junior year, Minshew decided to transfer again, but with a different goal in mind: coaching.

Minshew was going to join Alabama. He had almost no shot to start but he could learn to coach under Nick Saban. Minshew felt the experience under Saban would help him get a job down the road. Saban even reportedly was going to offer Minshew a job once he graduated.

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However, Washington State head coach Mike Leach instead called Minshew and made him an offer: "Do you want to come lead the country in passing?"

However, Washington State head coach Mike Leach instead called Minshew and made him an offer: "Do you want to come lead the country in passing?"

Minshew instead took Leach's offer, choosing to play football for another year in Leach's famous Air Raid offense.

Minshew didn't lead the nation in passing, but he came close, finishing second in yards and fourth in touchdowns. He threw for over 4,700 yards, 38 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and helped Washington State win the Alamo Bowl.

Minshew didn't lead the nation in passing, but he came close, finishing second in yards and fourth in touchdowns. He threw for over 4,700 yards, 38 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and helped Washington State win the Alamo Bowl.
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Minshew entered the NFL draft and got taken with the 178th overall pick by the Jaguars.

Minshew entered the NFL draft and got taken with the 178th overall pick by the Jaguars.

While Minshew's journey to the NFL and on-field performances have endeared him to fans, it's his personality and the off-field story that has taken his profile to a new level.

While Minshew's journey to the NFL and on-field performances have endeared him to fans, it's his personality and the off-field story that has taken his profile to a new level.
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First, there is the mustache. Minshew said the whole Washington State team grew out their mustaches during training camp, but later shaved. He decided to keep his.

First, there is the mustache. Minshew said the whole Washington State team grew out their mustaches during training camp, but later shaved. He decided to keep his.

His mustache became iconic on campus.

His mustache became iconic on campus.
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The 'stache has inspired several celebrity comparisons, from Ben Stiller's character in "Dodgeball"...

The 'stache has inspired several celebrity comparisons, from Ben Stiller's character in "Dodgeball"...

To Uncle Rico from "Napoleon Dynamite."

To Uncle Rico from "Napoleon Dynamite."
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In fact, Minshew even got to meet his counterpart.

In fact, Minshew even got to meet his counterpart.

There is more to the legend of Minshew. His grandfather wanted to name him Beowulf. Minshew's parents rejected the idea.

There is more to the legend of Minshew. His grandfather wanted to name him Beowulf. Minshew's parents rejected the idea.

Source: The Spokesman-Review

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Minshew's father, Flint, also received attention during Week 3 for looking like he could run on the field and play.

Minshew's father, Flint, also received attention during Week 3 for looking like he could run on the field and play.

His teammates revealed that Minshew has a thing for naked calisthenics in the locker room.

His teammates revealed that Minshew has a thing for naked calisthenics in the locker room.

Source: The Athletic

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Minshew apparently wears very little frequently. Early at Washington State, he won teammates over by doing a cannonball into a pool in just a jockstrap.

Minshew apparently wears very little frequently. Early at Washington State, he won teammates over by doing a cannonball into a pool in just a jockstrap.

Source: The Athletic

He also once stuck a bottle of Crown Royal into his cut-off jeans to make teammates laugh.

He also once stuck a bottle of Crown Royal into his cut-off jeans to make teammates laugh.
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His travel outfits are a sight to behold.

His travel outfits are a sight to behold.

Minshew is far from a joke, however. In high school, he used to sit in on defensive meetings so he could better understand defensive schemes and how to beat opponents.

Minshew is far from a joke, however. In high school, he used to sit in on defensive meetings so he could better understand defensive schemes and how to beat opponents.

Source: The Spokesman-Review

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When Minshew was in 8th grade, former New York Giants and Alabama head coach Ray Perkins called Minshew "the best junior high quarterback I think I’ve ever seen."

When Minshew was in 8th grade, former New York Giants and Alabama head coach Ray Perkins called Minshew "the best junior high quarterback I think I’ve ever seen."

Source: The Spokesman-Review

He hired a popular trainer to prepare for the NFL draft and consistently beat everyone else to the practice facility, no matter how early they got there.

He hired a popular trainer to prepare for the NFL draft and consistently beat everyone else to the practice facility, no matter how early they got there.

Source: The Spokesman-Review

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Leach said he used to laugh when scouts would ask him questions about Minshew, questioning whether they had actually watched them. Leach compared Minshew to Drew Brees.

Leach said he used to laugh when scouts would ask him questions about Minshew, questioning whether they had actually watched them. Leach compared Minshew to Drew Brees.

"The funny thing is people would call me about him – 'How's his arm?' 'Well his arm's good,'" Leach said.

"'Is he accurate?' And I'm wondering if they're real scouts when they start asking me if he's accurate.

"'How strong is his arm?' And again, it's running through my mind, 'did you really watch any film?'

"He's got great pocket presence. That's probably what he does best. He doesn't take negative plays. But then they'd say, 'How tall is he?' They're all set for that. I'd say, 'Well, he's exactly as tall as the all-time leading passer in the history of the NFL, which is Drew Brees.'"

Source: NFL Network

It's unclear if Minshew will remain the Jaguars' starting quarterback when Foles is healthy. But in the meantime, it doesn't seem as if Minshew Mania is going anywhere.

It's unclear if Minshew will remain the Jaguars' starting quarterback when Foles is healthy. But in the meantime, it doesn't seem as if Minshew Mania is going anywhere.
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Now, check out where Minshew's Jaguars stand in our power rankings...

Now, check out where Minshew's Jaguars stand in our power rankings...
NFL POWER RANKINGS: Where every team stands heading into Week 4 >