K.J. Costello transfers to Mississippi State as Mike Leach adds former Stanford starting quarterback

Mike Leach made the jump from Washington State to Mississippi State this offseason, and he’s bringing some west coast flavor with him. Former Stanford starting quarterback K.J. Costello announced on Monday that he will play his final year of college football with Leach and the Bulldogs. As a graduate transfer, Costello will be eligible immediately, and he’ll bring significant experience to Starkville.

Costello spent parts of three seasons as the starting quarterback of the Cardinal, throwing 49 touchdown passes during that time. His best season came as a sophomore in 2018 when he threw for 3,540 yards, 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while leading the team to a nine-win season. 

Costello competed 16 of 20 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown in the first half against Northwestern in the 2019 season opener, but was knocked out of the game after a helmet-to-helmet hit late in the first half. That injury caused him to miss the USC game one week later. Junior Davis Mills, a five-star prospect in the Class of 2017, started in his place. Costello came back in losses to UCF and Oregon later in the year but injured his hand against the Ducks and missed the next three games. He returned in the win over Arizona on Oct. 26 but was knocked out for the season the following week in a loss to Colorado.

“I remember dreaming about playing at Stanford since I was a little kid,” he wrote. “The legacy and the tradition was something I always knew I wanted to be a part of. I feel so fortunate to have spent my last four years at the top institution in the world. I decided to attend Stanford because I felt it would drive me to become the best version of myself. It did just that.”

Costello will battle with incumbent Garrett Shrader for the top spot on Leach’s quarterback depth chart. His experience will be attractive to Leach, who is familiar with him from their days in the Pac-12. Shrader isn’t as accomplished as a passer. He threw eight touchdowns and five interceptions in 10 games last year, but his 587 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns from a year ago prove that he can add that element if Leach feels like he needs production on the ground from his signal-caller.

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