Ferris graduate Jeff Minnerly moves from quarterback to safety as battle at quarterback down to five
Eastern Washington University will conclude its second full week of spring football practices with a scrimmage on Saturday (April 17), and local product Jeff Minnerly will be wearing a different colored jersey.
Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin has announced that the 2008 graduate of Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., will move from quarterback to safety as the list of quarterbacks vying at that position is now down to five. Baldwin said Minnerly will remain as EWU’s holder on placekicks and that the decision to move from quarterback was to enable the 6-foot-1, 190-pound sophomore a greater chance to use his athletic ability to contribute to the team.
Minnerly began practicing with the safeties on Tuesday and may see some snaps at safety in Saturday’s scrimmage, which begins at about 12:30 p.m. at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash. The scrimmage is open to the public, and Baldwin expects the scrimmage to consist of around 70 plays.
“Few players are gifted enough physically and mentally to make a significant move like that,” explained Baldwin, who said Minnerly had an interception in Wednesday’s practice. “We thought it would be the best thing for the team and Jeff to make this move, and we feel like he has all the tools to be an excellent safety. He still had a chance to compete for our quarterback position, but he has an even better opportunity to compete and earn playing time at the safety position.”
After earning EWU's Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year while redshirting in 2008, Minnerly completed 4-of-8 passes for six yards while serving as the backup to All-American and two-time Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year Matt Nichols.
Minnerly earned first team 4A All-State honors as a quarterback from WashingtonPreps.com, and was the Offensive Most Valuable Player in the Greater Spokane League after throwing for 27 touchdowns and just one interception as a senior. Also known for his scrambling ability, he was MVP for the East when he directed his team to a game-winning, 93-yard drive in the final 3:31 for a 17-14 victory in the 4A/3A East-West All-State Game.
Minnerly was also a starter for the two-time WIAA State 4A Champions in basketball, who were 29-0 both seasons. Ferris was the first 4A school to go unbeaten two consecutive seasons. He was a 4.0 student in high school and was his school's male recipient of the prestigious Greater Spokane League Scholar-Athlete award.
“Jeff is a great competitor,” Baldwin added. “He’s demonstrated his great football skills during agility drills in the winter, as well as his ability as a quarterback to cover ground and move. He’ll bring leadership and intelligence to the safety position, and that will be huge.”
One of the five remaining quarterbacks is junior Bo Levi Mitchell, a transfer from Southern Methodist University, who completed 6-of-8 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown in his Eagle scrimmage debut last Saturday (April 10). He had a 29-yard touchdown pass to Nicholas Edwards, and was also the quarterback when Eastern scored a pair of touchdowns in a red zone drill. Mitchell passed for 4,590 yards and 36 touchdowns at SMU where he started all 19 of the games he played.
Eastern’s other four other quarterbacks who played -- Minnerly, junior Nick Gauthier, junior Greg Panelli and freshman Anthony Vitto -- were a combined 11-of-22 for 95 yards and a pair of interceptions. Sophomore Scott Burgett did not play.