April 2, 2009

Costello battling the big boys

Blaine Gabbert came to Missouri with five stars beside his name and as much hype as could be carried by a high school player. Blaine Dalton and Ashton Glaser were coveted by multiple Division One schools and enrolled early at Mizzou to throw their names in the competition for Missouri's starting quarterback job. But the most veteran of Missouri's four scholarship quarterbacks did not have a single Division II school that wanted him to play quarterback...much less anyone at the Division One level.

"There were a lot of smaller levels. I didn't really pursue those too much," Jimmy Costello said. "There were a few D2 schools that wanted me to try to play tight end there. I just got the opportunity to follow my dream here and I'm trying to follow it."

That dream was a walk-on opportunity with the Tigers. Costello threw for 3,200 yards and 33 touchdowns while earning all-conference honors at Liberty High School during his junior and senior seasons. But no major college coaches were taking any notice.

"Sometimes you find these guys that kind of mature a little bit later than their senior year in high school," Gary Pinkel said.

The Tigers are hoping Costello is one of those guys. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound sophomore is currently second on the depth chart behind Gabbert. He earned a scholarship in the off-season after redshirting in 2007 and serving as Missouri's fourth-string quarterback in 2008.

"When I got here, a year and a half ago, I wasn't ready to play at this level at all," Costello said. "Coach Yost, Chase Patton, Chase Daniel all helped me along. Those are great guys to learn from. Coach Yost is one of the best quarterback coaches in the nation I think. He's really done a good job trying to take me along."

Pinkel and Yost have consistently said the quarterback race is open to all four players. A final decision is unlikely to be made by the end of the spring on April 18th.

"Probably up until the days coming up before Illinois, that week," Costello said. "We're going to compete all spring, all summer, all camp in two a days and probably at the end of two a days, somebody's going to be named."

And what is the former walk-on's goal?

"To be that starting quarterback," he said. "And be the best I can possibly be."

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