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Mike Leach clearly doesn’t have time to play games with the recruiting process or with the run game, an approach that mostly likely benefits Stanford grad transfer K.J. Costello, one game into the pirate era at Mississippi State. What did it take for Leach to land Costello, who played only five games during the 2019 season due to injuries?
CBS college football writer Dennis Dodd says the Mike Leach’s pitch went something like this: Come to Mississippi State, and you can lead the nation in passing.
Long story short, Costello was sold. He ventured into a COVID-era Baton Rouge and torched LSU’s secondary with five touchdowns and 623 passing yards, an SEC record.
“It was more the idea I’d already been in a pro-style system. … We were trying to control the game — control the ball and play really good defense,” Costello told Dodd about his time at Stanford. “We put a ton on the quarterback but didn’t necessarily open it up, get five guys out in the pattern almost 80% of the time. … I wanted to experience some of the Air Raid.”
Costello had one more shot to play college football. Leach called him up and offered to let him come sling it at Mississippi State. The opportunity of a lifetime.
Costello then sets the SEC single-game passing record, his coach gets up Monday and sings his praises on Clay’s radio show, the school releases a bandwagon hype video and Leach destroys a New York Times reporter looking for him to bite on COVID bait. Meanwhile, his job now is to get his arm ready to unleash on Arkansas (Saturday, 7:30 ET, SECN).
Costello is living in a dream world right now. “New day, new opportunity,” Costello wrote on Instagram, after lighting up LSU. That smile is reminiscent of Gardner Minshew, who went to Pullman, Washington to take a ride on the Mike Leach Experience. Now he’s 7-8 in the NFL and laughing at those who gave him no chance of making the league.
At this point, Costello is playing with house money. He already has his political science degree from Stanford and that SEC passing record.