Minshew's collegiate career nearly finished on a much different note. He almost signed on as a graduate student at Alabama to be a third-string quarterback for the Tide. WSU coach Mike Leach offered him a starting job at the last minute, however, as the team tried to find a starter in the aftermath of the passing of 2017 passer Tyler Hilinski. Minshew become one of the top passers in college football in 2018, and a local mustachioed hero, helping the Cougars win 11 games for the first time ever and winning the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year award. He led the FBS in completions (468), pass attempts (662), passing yards per game (367, 4,779 total) and ranked in the top five nationally in completion percentage (70.6), passing touchdowns (38) while throwing nine interceptions. He went to Northwest Mississippi Community College out of high school, leading the team to a junior college national championship (223-367-60.8, 3,288 yards, 28 TD, five INT) with a big effort in the title game (421 yards, five TD). East Carolina signed him after that season, but he could not lock down the starting job at the start of either of his seasons there. Minshew stepped in for two games for injured Phillip Nelson in 2016 (119-202-58.9, 1,347 yards, eight TD, four INT in seven games) and in five games for an injured Thomas Sirk in 2017 (174-304-57.2, 2,140, 16 TD, seven INT in 10 games). His father, Flint, played football at Millsaps College and his mother, Kim, played basketball at Mississippi State.