Four-star quarterback recruit K.J. Costello committed to Stanford on Thursday over fellow finalists Michigan and USC. Costello will fight to replace 2015's returning starter Kevin Hogan in 2016.
K.J. Costello is headed to Stanford. The four-star quarterback announced at a ceremony at his high school on Thursday that he has verbally committed to the Cardinal. He had narrowed his list to Michigan, Stanford and USC.
A few weeks ago, Costello told the Los Angeles Times that he would make his choice “after I wake up three or four days in a row with the same thought.” On Thursday, Costello made public what he termed a “once in a lifetime” decision.
Costello announced his choice by standing behind a lectern and slipping on a Cardinal baseball cap in a banquet room filled with classmates.
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Costello is so highly regarded because of his combination of size (6'5", 213 pounds), pocket presence, arm strength and accuracy. As a junior at Santa Margarita (Calif.) High, Costello completed 229 of his 380 pass attempts for 3,123 yards with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while leading the Eagles to a 6-5 record, according to MaxPreps.
Rivals.com rates Costello as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback and No. 25 player in the class of 2016. His pledge means the top four quarterbacks for 2016 have committed to a school. The others are pro-style passer Jacob Eason (Georgia), dual-threat passer Shea Patterson (Ole Miss) and dual-threat passer Malik Henry (Florida State).
Costello could compete with two other highly-touted signal-callers in 2016 to succeed returning starter Kevin Hogan, who has one year of eligibility remaining. Sophomore Keller Chryst was rated the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2014, while junior Ryan Burns was rated the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2013. Stanford did not sign a QB in 2015.
With Hogan behind center, Stanford successfully transitioned from the Andrew Luck era by reaching the Rose Bowl and posting 23 wins over two seasons. The Cardinal dipped to 8-5 in 2014 but likely will be a trendy pick to bounce back in 2015. SI.com pegged Stanford at No. 12 in its Way-Too-Early Top 25. While Costello won’t arrive until the following season, Stanford’s future at quarterback is promising.
The prospect of replacing Hogan is far less daunting than replacing Luck, a program-changing talent who developed into a No. 1 draft pick. In any case, the quarterback talent the Cardinal have been able to attract (thanks in part to the success of the recruits' predecessors at the position) should begin to pay dividends once Costello arrives on campus, even if Costello himself doesn’t take the reigns as a freshman.
In late February, Costello spoke to Rivals.com about how committing early could allow him to help improve his chosen program’s 2016 class. The Cardinal already have earned a commitment from Bo Peek, a three-star defensive tackle from Tampa, Fla. It’s worth noting that Costello is teammates with Dylan Crawford, who is ranked No. 16 among wide receivers in the class of 2016 and has received a scholarship offer from Stanford.
“I've always thought about committing early and building that 2016 class,” Costello said. “You know, we have dudes out here on my [7-on-7 team] at other positions. I thought maybe I could get some dudes in 2015 as well. But I'm just focused on my class. I feel like building the class is a big deal but I wasn't going to help build a team and a class for a school I wasn't sold on. I wanted to wait to make sure I feel right. We still have plenty of time, a whole 'nother year until signing day to get dudes to hop on board and build a big-time 2016 class.”
Costello began to consider Michigan more seriously after the program hired Jim Harbaugh to replace Brady Hoke, according to the Times. Instead of following Harbaugh, Costello is set to join the program Harbaugh built into a national power before a stint with the San Francisco 49ers, which preceded his taking over the Wolverines. Michigan could now turn its attention to Avon (Ind.) High standout Brandon Peters, the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2016.
On its face, Costello’s decision to pick Stanford over his other California-based finalist may seem strange. Not only is Costello from Southern California, but he also grew up a fan of the Trojans and his mother attended the school. The good news for USC is that it returns a darkhorse Heisman Trophy contender in Cody Kessler, it counts the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2013 (Max Browne) on its depth chart and it landed two QBs (Ricky Town, Sam Darnold) in 2015.
Still, neither of those prospects are as highly regarded as Costello. Here are are some highlights from Costello’s junior season.