STARKVILLE

Mike Leach hasn’t made it official yet, but K.J. Costello is the starting quarterback in two weeks if he is healthy.

Leach mentioned after Mississippi State’s first scrimmage last Saturday that Costello, a graduate transfer from Stanford, was ahead of the pack, with freshman Will Rogers becoming the No. 2.

He’s not the only one who has nonchalantly praised Costello during press conferences this fall camp. Costello has repeatedly been named one of the team’s top leaders and said to have taken complete leadership of the offense, even early on in his transfer process.

That’s not surprising. Costello started most of three seasons with Stanford and has over 6,000 career passing yards and 49 touchdowns.

Garrett Shrader, a fan favorite who started four games as a true freshman last season, looks to be the No. 3 quarterback so far in camp. He passed for 1,170 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 587 yards and six scores last year.

Rogers is a true freshman out of Brandon High School and was heavily recruited by Leach at Washington State. The former three-star recruit passed for 9,093 yards and 79 touchdowns in his high school career.

#Receivers excited

We’ve gotten a handful of receivers interviews so far in fall camp this year, and the consensus is that they’re all very excited to be in this offense and ready to get the season started.

They should be. Leach’s Air-Raid offense will likely add draft stock to a lot of MSU receivers, who would never have been looked at beforehand.

At Washington State, Leach passed the ball a whopping 72 percent of the time. The Cougars had five receivers catch over 50 passes in 2019 and three of them caught over 75 passes.

There are only 59 returning catches from Mississippi State’s roster from last season. Osirus Mitchell is the leader in that category with 29 of them. JaVonta Payton had nine.

Those two, plus Austin Williams, Tyrell Shavers and Malik Heath, could all eclipse 50 catches this year.

#Starters coming together

There were a lot of vacant starting positions to start the 2020 fall camp, but looks like most of those are filling out with two weeks left until MSU’s opener.

Like mentioned above, Costello at quarterback. Kylin Hill, obviously, at running back. Payton, Mitchell, Heath and Williams are my projections at receiver, but starters aren’t too important at receiver. There will be eight or so receivers rotating around all game.

On the offensive line, it’ll likely be Greg Eiland, Charles Cross, Dareuan Parker, Kwatrivous Johnson and Cole Smith, with Scott Lashley playing a big role as well.

On defense, Kobe Jones, Marquiss Spencer and Nathan Pickering are just a number of talented returners, while Erroll Thompson is the leading returning linebacker.

Thompson is joined by Aaron Brule, Jordan Davis, Tyrus Wheat and others who could all start.

In the secondary, Martin Emerson Jr. will start as the main cornerback while Emmanuel Forbes and Esaias Furdge will play the other cornerback. At safety, it sounds like it will be Fred Peters and Marcus Murphy.

Dalton Middleton (dalton.middleton@journalinc.com) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal. Find more in the Facebook Group “Mississippi State Discussion w/Dalton Middleton.”

Dalton Middleton (dalton.middleton@journalinc.com) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal. Find more in the Facebook Group "Mississippi State Discussion w/Dalton Middleton."

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