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Meet Gardner Minshew, the Raiders' new eclectic quarterback

The Las Vegas Raiders added more competition to their quarterback room with veteran Gardner Minshew.

He signed with the Silver and Black after a Pro Bowl season with the Indianapolis Colts. Having spent time with three teams through five seasons, Minshew has gained a reputation of grinding his way through obstacles, and doing it with an eccentric, energetic persona.

Here are a few things to know about the Raiders' quarterback signing.

From Mississippi to Minshew Mania

Minshew's ability to make the most of his opportunity in the NFL was a pattern formed on his journey to the league.

The three-star prospect from Mississippi originally committed to Troy University before deciding to attend Northwest Mississippi Community College. There he became a NJCAA national champion before transferring to East Carolina University, and later Washington State.

His one season with the Cougars under the late Mike Leach was one for the record books, breaking the school's single-season record for passing yards (4,776) and completions (468) en route to an 11-2 season and Alamo Bowl victory. He finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting that 2018 season as well. It was there Minshew became a household name with his trademark Fu Manchu mustache and 1970's style hair flow, coining "Minshew Mania" as a phenomenon in college football.

"Gardner's just naturally a very sharp dude," said Peyton Pelluer, a teammate of Minshew's at Washington State. "He doesn't always give off that vibe because he's a wavy, headbanging idiot off the field, but his football IQ is elite. He is innately curious about anything when it comes to football. He takes it to heart and is always trying to learn and adapt."

The Duvall run

It was an uphill battle for Minshew as a sixth-round pick to Jacksonville Jaguars, but he ended up with the starting job as a rookie.

In his first regular season game in relief of an injured Nick Foles, Minshew completed 88 percent of his throws, still a franchise record for highest completion percentage in a game, with 275 yards and two touchdowns. 

Despite Minshew's 7-13 career record with the Jaguars, he produced good numbers as their quarterback – with 5,530 passing yards and a 37:11 touchdown to interception ratio. His 21 passing touchdowns in 2019 are also a Jags franchise record for most touchdown passes in a season for a rookie. It was also in Jacksonville that he acquired the nickname "The Jockstrap King" from teammate Leonard Fournette, due to Minshew's ritual of strength training in nothing but the protective undergarment.

A breakthrough in Indy

After a Super Bowl appearance with the Philadelphia Eagles backing up Jalen Hurts, Minshew signed with the Colts in 2023, competing with fourth overall pick Anthony Richardson for the starting job. While the rookie initially won the job, he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 4. Like Minshew previously had done in Jacksonville, he went to work.

As the Colts starter, Minshew won seven games and nearly helped the team earn a playoff berth. He set career-highs in passing yards (3,305), pass completions (305) and rushing touchdowns (three) while being named an alternate in the 2024 NFL Pro Bowl Games. In the Week 17 matchup last season against the Raiders, Minshew led the Colts to a 23-20 victory, recording 224 yards and a 58-yard touchdown bomb to Alec Pierce.

"He is locked in and has been as cool as he can be when the seas are rough, which you don't say that about everybody either," Colts offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said of Minshew at the time. "Gosh, sometimes things don't go great. It's easy in this world, anything we do when things aren't going great to change your mindset, to adjust your mindset and sort of put yourself in a worse place. Gardner doesn't do that."

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