Gubrud will join up with Cougs after all

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Gage Gubrud is headed for Washington State after all.

Despite earlier reports that his application for a sixth year of eligibility had been declined by the NCAA, the Cougar football program Saturday announced the signing of the highly regarded former Eastern Washington quarterback.

A source confirmed the NCAA had approved Gubrud’s appeal, just days after the Spokesman-Review reported that the governing body had turned him down. He will enroll immediately as a graduate transfer, with one year of eligibility, and will participate in 2019 spring drills.

The news instantly changes the complexion of WSU’s efforts to replace Gardner Minshew, the quarterback who himself had enrolled as a grad transfer last year and led the Cougars to an 11-2 season.

“We are excited for Gage to come in and compete with the quarterbacks on our team,” WSU coach Mike Leach said in a statement. “He is an extremely experienced and productive player who led Eastern Washington to great heights in his time there. It’s not often that you can add a quarterback to your roster that has started 28 games and thrown for nearly 10,000 yards.”

The Cougars have plenty of QBs on board, but none of them boasts extensive playing time at the NCAA level. Gubrud (goo-BROOD) is a two-time finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the premier offensive player in the FCS, the lower tier of NCAA Division I football. He broke numerous records, including three for the FCS, seven for the Big Sky Conference and 19 for Eastern Washington.

His bid for a sixth year of eligibility was based on a toe injury that sidelined him during what was supposed to be his senior year at EWU last year. He appeared in only the first five games, or 33 percent of what turned out to be a 15-game season. The NCAA normally requires a player to appear in only 30 percent of his team’s games in a particular season to be eligible for a medical waiver.

Gubrud had already used a redshirt season, in 2014. Over the next four years he passed for 9,984 yards and 57 touchdowns, against 32 interceptions.

He also rushed for a gross 1,076 yards, which may be a key statistic in the Cougars’ interest in him. Although they rarely call designed QB run plays, they clearly benefited from Minshew’s mobility and sack avoidance last year.

As he awaited a verdict from the NCAA, Gubrud declared an interest in transferring to WSU, choosing the Cougars over the other school on his short list, Utah. He had also reportedly considered UCLA, Boise State and Texas Christian.

Gubrud, 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, starred at McMinnville (Ore.) High but drew no Division I scholarship offers. He chose a preferred walk-on offer from EWU over an an opportunity from Linfield of the Division III level.

The Cougars’ quarterback stable includes Trey Tinsley and Anthony Gordon, who battled Minshew in a drawn-out, three-man competition for a starting role last August. Also on hand are three young players with ample prep credentials: Connor Neville from the 2017 class, Camm Cooper from the 2018 crop and the recently signed Gunner Cruz.

Grummert may be contacted at daleg@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2290.

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