Mississippi State football: Bulldogs could have best QB group in SEC

Garrett Shrader of the Mississippi State Bulldogs (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Garrett Shrader of the Mississippi State Bulldogs (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

It’s possible that in Mike Leach’s first year leading the Mississippi State football program that they could have the best group of quarterbacks in the SEC.

Everyone knew when Mike Leach took over the Mississippi State football program that the passing game would benefit, but the group of quarterbacks vying for the first-team snaps is better than anyone may have hoped.

The Bulldogs have a young nucleus of good quarterbacks, a transfer who nobody really knows how could he can be, and a very talented graduate transfer who is probably going to be the leader of this group in 2020.

In February, 247 Sports tabbed graduate transfer K.J. Costello as the No. 1 starting quarterback in the SEC. The former Stanford standout is looked at as the probable starter at Mississippi State once things get back to business in America.

Costello is the perfect fit for the Mike Leach Air Raid offense. His only downside has been repeated injuries, so keeping him upright and healthy will be a key to offensive success this season.

The Bulldogs have a one-season rental on Costello with his remaining year of eligibility, and that will give some of the young guns in the quarterback room time to watch, learn, and hone their craft in preparing for the 2021 season.

The problem is, with a big crowd at any position in modern college football, the dreaded transfer portal has become an all-too-easy option for players who don’t have the patience to ride the pine and carry a clipboard.

Despite any possible attrition, if everything shakes out as planned, the Bulldogs still could end up with the best group of quarterbacks in the conference.

Mississippi State football boasting some good young arms.

Vanderbilt transfer Allan Walters is the wild card in this group. He wasn’t a very highly recruited quarterback and saw almost no action during his limited time at Vanderbilt, but there’s a reason he wanted to come here and why Mike Leach wanted him here. It’s unlikely he’ll be eligible to play in 2020 unless the NCAA gives him (or everyone, after the COVID-19 crisis) an exception.

That leads to a couple of quarterbacks with some talent but who will most likely be the odd men out when the dust settles. It’s possible we’ll see Keytaon Thompson and Jalen Mayden entering the transfer portal, unless they’ve made some significant strides in their game during the offseason. Both are good dual-threat QBs but neither really has the ceiling that some of the younger arms in this group do.

Leach will push them all to excel, but Thompson and Mayden may be looking for new programs. If they do decide to stay, regardless of where they fall on the depth chart, it makes the quarterback depth for Mississippi State untouchable.

Two young guys will really be in the spotlight and will be counted on to learn as much as they can from K.J. Costello while he’s here – sophomore Garrett Shrader and true freshman Will Rogers. For Rogers, it’s likely to be a redshirt year with so many arms, but if two or more QBs decide to transfer he could be pressed into service this season.

Schrader is the one guy in this group who could push Costello and make things interesting. A former 4-star recruit out of Charlotte, N.C., Garrett Shrader was a Joe Moorhead recruit, pretty much hand-picked to run the offense, and he did a pretty good job of that despite some injuries and taking some wicked hits during the season.

Shrader has all the tools to be a starter for practically any team in the SEC, and most other Division 1 schools in the country. He also has the respect of his teammates, and that’s something that can’t be undersold. If Shrader plays up to his potential and makes it a real competition with Costello, every quarterback standing behind them will benefit and also get better as a result.

In short, there’s no downside to Costello coming in and shaking things up. He can step in and run the new system almost seamlessly and as the other young quarterbacks learn it we could see a succession of successful passers much like Leach had year after year at Washington State.

There’s no other team in the SEC that can brag this kind of depth and upside to their entire quarterback roster.

light. Related Story. 5 Areas Where the Bulldogs Will Improve in 2020