Ex-Stanford QB K.J. Costello announces transfer to Mississippi State

K.J. Costello threw for 29 TDs in 2018. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

It didn’t take long for Mike Leach to secure the commitment of a grad transfer quarterback at Mississippi State.

Former Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello said Monday afternoon that he would head to Mississippi State for his final season of eligibility. Costello, the Cardinal’s starting QB to begin 2019, had said he would explore a graduate transfer at the end of the season.

“I remember dreaming about playing at Stanford since I was a little kid,” Costello 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 threw 29 TDs in 2018

Costello had a breakout 2018 campaign. Things weren’t nearly as great in 2019. Costello suffered a concussion in the team’s season-opening win over Northwestern and missed the team’s Week 2 game against USC.

After returning in Stanford’s loss to UCF, Costello then missed more time because of a thumb injury. He ended up playing in just five games throughout 2019 and was 102-of-167 passing for 1,038 yards and six touchdowns and three interceptions.

Davis Mills established himself in Costello’s absence as Stanford stumbled to a 4-8 season. With Mills in line to be Stanford’s primary QB in 2020, Costello decided to seek a new school for his final season of college football. 

Leach hired in January

Mississippi State will throw the ball a ton in 2019. Way more than Costello has done so far in his college career. He has 791 career attempts in parts of three seasons with the Cardinal. Anthony Gordon, Washington State’s starting quarterback in 2019 under Leach, threw 689 passes.

Leach was hired as MSU’s coach in January after the team fired coach Joe Moorhead following a Music City Bowl loss to Louisville. And Costello will be the third-straight graduate transfer quarterback he’s recruited.

The most famous grad transfer is Gardner Minshew. The former ECU QB broke out in 2018 in his only season at Washington State. Minshew threw for nearly 4,800 yards and 38 touchdowns and parlayed that success into a rookie free agent deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he became the team’s starting quarterback at the end of the season.

After Minshew left Washington State, the Cougars got a commitment from Eastern Washington QB Gage Gubrud, who threw for 87 touchdowns in 32 games with the FCS school. But Gubrud couldn’t beat out Gordon for the starting QB job.

At MSU, Costello will compete with Garrett Shrader to be the team’s starting QB. The freshman split time with former Penn State QB Tommy Stevens in 2019 and was more effective as a rusher than as a thrower. Shrader rushed for 587 yards on 113 attempts while he was 88-of-153 passing for 1,170 yards and eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He infamously missed that Music City Bowl loss after a facial injury sustained in a practice fight ahead of the game.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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