Stanford Football: Davis Mills set to assume the full-time starting role

Stanford Football (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Stanford Football (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Stanford football program has seen numerous players transfer in recent weeks including quarterback K.J. Costello. And in his place, Davis Mills should be given the starting job.

It’s been a rough few weeks for the Stanford football program. After a disappointing 2019 season that saw the team miss its first bowl game in a decade, the Cardinal have been hit with numerous transfer requests.

From the likes of wide receiver Donald Stewart to starting defensive linemen such as Michael Williams and Jovan Swann, the Cardinal have now seen 13 players enter the transfer portal since the conclusion of the season.

And the 13th and so far final player of those transfer was definitely the most notable.

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Quarterback K.J. Costello has reportedly entered the transfer portal as a graduate transfer and will be looking for a new home next season. After a breakout sophomore season, Costello looked to be one of the fastest-rising quarterbacks in college football.

The young gunslinger started all 13 games in 2018 finishing the season with 3,540 passing yards — the most by any Stanford quarterback since Andrew Luck — and 29 touchdowns to go along with only 11 interceptions.

For his efforts, Costello was named second-team All-Pac 12 and was one of the only reasons to remain optimistic about Stanford football heading into the season.

Unfortunately, multiple injuries to his thumb and head would limit him to just five games in 2019 as he finished with an uninspiring stat line. Costello’s future with the program was already in doubt, but this seemingly solidifies his departure.

Most were expecting Costello to enter the NFL Draft after this season but his injury-filled campaign likely played a role in his decision to remain in college for one final season. But that season likely won’t be with the Cardinal.

Part of his decision was certainly impacted by the emergence of junior quarterback Davis Mills last season. The former five-star recruit played in eight games last season throwing for 1,953 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions.

Behind a struggling offensive line and paired with limited playmakers, Mills actually fared pretty well given his situation. While Costello would have undoubtedly been given the first chance at the starting job, Davis Mills would have presented a challenge that he may not have elsewhere.

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Head coach David Shaw was committed to Costello in the short-term, but there was no guarantee that Mills wouldn’t be given a shot down the line — especially if Costello struggled.

And now, it will be on Mills to lead what will hopefully be a healthier Stanford offense in 2020.

Mills played admirably in his first season of extended playing time this past year and he clearly has the arm talent to be a very successful quarterback. And with a more experienced offensive line returning star left tackle Walker Little, the hope is that Mills will have some more help.

Still, things aren’t exactly looking great for Stanford right now in the midst of more than a dozen transfers — far and away the most in the Pac-12 — from their program in the past couple of weeks.

Costello has just become the most notable name.

Perhaps Mills could break out as a senior and lead Stanford football back the postseason and out of the Pac-12’s basement. He should hopefully be given more help.

After all, it’s hard to imagine similar injury misfortunate striking the team yet again.

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He’ll have his work cut out for him, but this is Davis Mills’ team now. And there will be no K.J. Costello standing in his way next year.