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Former Pac-12 Star Costello Follows Leach to Starkville

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Based on resume, K.J. Costello is one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in the SEC.

Noted offensive guru Mike Leach came to Starkville to throw the football. The former head coach at Washington State and Texas Tech, and offensive coordinator at Oklahoma and Kentucky, has consistently had one of the nation's most prolific passing attacks. In Stanford graduate-transfer K.J. Costello, Leach now has his quarterback. Costello comes to Mississippi State after 6,151 passing yards and 49 passing touchdowns with the Cardinal.

The 6'5'' signal caller is set to be the catalyst for the Bulldogs' transition to Leach's spread scheme.   

Costello was one of the top quarterbacks in the Pac-12 the past few years. He led the league with a 154.97 passer rating and 8.6 yards per pass attempt as a sophomore in 2018. Impressively, Costello also finished second in the conference with 29 touchdown passes and a 65.1% completion percentage that year, trailing only Washington State's Gardner Minshew, coached, of course, by Leach.

Mississippi State's high-profile new head man, Leach knows his high-profile new quarterback well. Facing a Washington State team then ranked in the national top ten, Costello completed 34-of-43 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns in a dramatic 38-41 loss to the Cougars. His strike to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside tied the game with 1:25 remaining. Costello and Minshew starred in a classic showdown that resulted in 930 total yards and memories that have now turned into momentum.  

Two former competitors out west, Leach and Costello now form a foundational bond, for the Bulldogs, as they transition to the SEC. Both will make each other's job easier.    

Leach's quarterbacks have led college football in passing four of the last seven seasons. Costello, see past box scores, is no stranger to big-time production. His veteran perspective and at least-peripheral awareness of Leach's system and style will be of value to Mississippi State moving forward. The Bulldogs have a talented roster, options at quarterback included; that said, Costello's experience and ability will help speed Starkville's schematic reset along. Fall camp will be one where Mississippi State's passing gamehits the ground running. 

Expect Costello to produce. He obviously already has, though probably not at the rate he soon will. Even as the Bulldogs redefine themselves in college football toughest division, Leach and Costello, savvy and tough, will find a way. Leach's design works and works well. Though change may be deliberate at times, a continuation is on the horizon. Costello, needless to say, will be busy.

Already, Leach has seen Costello at his best; now, the offensive mastermind gets the opportunity to help develop the signal caller firsthand.

It's difficult to project just how quickly Mississippi State's transformation will go. The addition of Costello, however, will only accelerate the process. An All Pac-12 quarterback, an all-conference academic honoree and a two-time team captain at Stanford, Costello enters his senior season will the Bulldogs as an interesting NFL prospect. His move will bring even more storylines to Starkville.  

Based on resume, Costello is one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in the SEC.

There is fascinating potential with Leach and Mississippi State. Costello's arrival only magnifies the sentiments.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports