With Christian McCaffrey gone and an unsettled quarterback situation, the future of the Stanford offense will fall into the hands of two blue-chip prospects, K.J. Costello and Davis Mills.
It’s the dawn of a new day in Palo Alto.
Christian McCaffrey, arguably the best college football player in the country the past two seasons, is headed to the NFL. And now Stanford will need to figure out its new identity on offense.
While rising junior halfback Bryce Love will be tasked with replacing McCaffrey in the Cardinal backfield, he won’t necessarily be the focal point of the offense.
No, that responsibility will fall upon the shoulders of a teenager, and his name is K.J. Costello.
On Wednesday, the Mercury News reported that senior Ryan Burns will leave the program as a graduate transfer, and junior quarterback Keller Chryst would be sidelined for at least six months following surgery for an unspecified injury, which is believed to be a torn ACL. That leaves the door wide open for Costello to orchestrate the offense.
Ranked as the No. 6 quarterback and No. 91 overall player in the 2016 class, Costello didn’t see any game action this past season. But he is highly talented. There is a reason why he held offers from top-tier programs like Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, USC, et al.
Costello is 6-foot-5, 220 pounds and combines eye-popping arm strength with a natural touch on deep balls. He’s highly intelligent and should handle the reins quite nicely.
And while Costello is expected to be the starting quarterback, incoming true freshman Davis Mills will be looking over his shoulder.
Mills, ranked as the No. 1 quarterback and No. 3 overall player in the 2017 cycle, has soared up recruiting boards everywhere in the past year. He possesses most of the same traits Costello does, but what pops off the film for the Norcross, Georgia native is his command of the football. He’s consistently accurate with a smooth release and a tight spiral. He’s a little smaller than Costello at 6-foot-3, 188 pounds, but is equally comprehensive under center.
As long as Costello does what is asked of him, he should hold onto the job. The quarterback situation will adapt an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” persona.
But if the former 4-star recruit begins to slip, we could see Mills step into the starting role — especially with Chryst set to miss the opening portion of the season.
Both Costello and Mills are young, talented players. The Cardinal will be fine with either one lining up under center.
The future is now for Stanford, and it’s personified in two blue-chip quarterbacks who boast surgical precision. Rather remarkably it’s an exciting time for the Cardinal football program in the wake of McCaffrey’s departure.