Georgia was looking for a quarterback on the transfer market. It faced the possibility of Jake Fromm declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft and needed more depth at the position regardless of Fromm’s decision.
Last December, a former top recruit and multi-year starter from Stanford entered the portal and Georgia reached out. Head coach Kirby Smart said on Monday he had multiple conversations with K.J. Costello about the potential of playing at Georgia.
“I had communication with him for a while, while he was in the portal and just talked back and forth,” Smart said. “Really, it was before Jamie [Newman] had entered the transfer portal or we even knew that Jamie was an option. K.J. did communicate a little early on and there was some interest there.”
Costello ended up signing with the other SEC Bulldogs with Mike Leach at Mississippi State. Georgia instead went with Jamie Newman, a graduate transfer from Wake Forest. Newman entered the transfer portal after Costello and once Fromm declared for the NFL draft, it went all-in on Newman.
But as Georgia readies to face Costello on Saturday, the circumstances around both graduate transfer quarterbacks have changed drastically. And Georgia now might be starting a different transfer quarterback in J.T. Daniels, who arrived at Georgia in May.
Costello was one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the 2016 signing class as the 247Sports Composite rankings had him as the No. 47 overall prospect in the country. He signed with Stanford. Costello first made his way onto the field in his redshirt freshman season and impressed early. He threw for 14 touchdowns compared to four interceptions for the Cardinal in seven starts.
His best season came in 2018 when he started all 13 games for Stanford. He threw for 29 touchdowns while completing 65 percent of his passes for the PAC-12 team. He seemed poised for a breakout in 2019, but that was derailed by injuries that led him to starting only five games. Add in that Stanford had 2017 5-star quarterback Davis Mills waiting behind him, and Costello entered the transfer portal.
Smart praised Costello’s physical traits and intelligence as to why he was seen as such an attractive commodity.
“I know he’s a really good player, really smart,” Smart said. “People at Stanford [University] say a lot about him, really positive things about him. He’s very proficient. Big, big, fella with a big arm that fits well in the system of being able to throw the ball.”
When the Georgia-Mississippi State game was first scheduled in August, it created the potential for both Newman and Costello to face off. A chance for Georgia to see if it ended up getting the right graduate transfer in Newman, as opposed to the other option in Costello.
But that possibility went out the door when Newman opted out of the season on Sept. 2. In the months since, Newman has been training and preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft. He recently earned a Senior Bowl invite, which will allow him to showcase his tools and talents in front of NFL scouts in Mobile, Ala.
“I haven’t seen Jamie. We communicated obviously when he left and a couple times since then, but he hasn’t been with us,” Smart said when asked about Newman last week. “I don’t know if he’s been with the players outside the building, but I haven’t seen Jamie here.”
Costello meanwhile showed right away what he could be if everything went right. In Leach’s offense, Costello threw for a single-game SEC record 623 yards and five touchdowns in his first game for Mississippi State, a 44-34 win over defending champion LSU in the opening week of the season.
But since that magical first game, little has gone right for Costello or Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are 1-4 since that opening week win, with the lone win coming against Vanderbilt. The seemingly potent offense sputtered as SEC teams began to figure out Leach’s offense. After the LSU win, Costello has thrown just a single touchdown pass to eight interceptions.
What’s worse for Costello is that injuries have become a factor once again. He sustained a head injury in a loss to Alabama and did not play in the team’s 24-17 win over Vanderbilt.
The Bulldogs didn’t play last week due to COVID-19 issues, though Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said on Monday he felt confident that the game would be played after communicating with Mississippi State.
Whether or not Costello is one the field is yet to be seen at this point. Much like the quarterback position at Georgia, little has worked out as expected for the graduate transfer at Mississippi State.
It’s worth pondering what Costello would’ve looked like in Todd Monken’s offense at Georgia. He is not nearly the athlete that Newman was, nor Stetson Bennett or D’Wan Mathis. His skillset is actually more comparable to that of Daniels, who is expected to see the field on Saturday for the Georgia Bulldogs.
Consider Costello and his presence another what if in a series of many surrounding the Georgia quarterback position under Kirby Smart.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- All charges against former Georgia All-American Deandre Baker dropped
- Game time, TV Network announced for Week 13 Georgia-South Carolina game
- Georgia football winners and losers following unexpected off week
- Georgia football substantial favorite over Mississippi State in battle of Bulldogs
- Georgia football remains outside the top-10 of AP, Coaches Poll after off week
- Georgia football poll: Fans identify Bulldogs’ biggest issue, team MVP, best coaching hire
- Georgia football SEC Week 8 roundup: What DawgNation needs to know
- Georgia football: The position where the 2021 recruiting class has to deliver
- Nolan Smith highlights the 4 things we learned about Georgia football during unexpected off week