Costello will return to Stanford rather than enter NFL Draft

K.J. Costello let Stanford’s coaches and fans breathe a little more easily when he announced Wednesday night that he will return to the Farm for the 2019 season.

As a redshirt sophomore, he was eligible to enter this year’s NFL Draft. Instead, like Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, he’ll be back in college ball.

In a concise tweet, Costello said, “I look forward to continuing my athletic and academic career at Stanford University. Stanford is a special place. I’m excited to get after it with my brothers in 2019.”

In his first full season as the starter, he threw for 3,540 yards and 29 touchdowns. Only Steve Stenstrom threw for more yards in a season at Stanford (3,627 in 1993). Andrew Luck holds the school record for TD passes with 37 in 2011; he also had 32 in 2010.

Costello’s return is a major boost for a team that loses tailback Bryce Love, wide receivers JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Trent Irwin, tight end Kaden Smith and most of its offensive line, as well as its leading tackler, inside linebacker Bobby Okereke.

If Costello had turned pro, the leading candidate at quarterback would have been redshirt freshman Davis Mills, who has a history of knee injuries. The only other scholarship quarterbacks are freshman Jack West and junior Jack Richardson.

Tanner McKee, who signed last year, is on an LDS mission and won’t arrive until 2020. Stanford didn’t sign a quarterback as part of its 2019 class.

The Cardinal could have faced a major problem at quarterback against one of the toughest schedules in the country. In addition to Notre Dame, they will face heavyweights Northwestern and Central Florida. Notre Dame made the College Football playoff semifinals; Northwestern reached the Big Ten title game, and UCF has gone undefeated in the last two regular seasons.

There was more good news for the Cardinal on Wednesday with five-star offensive tackle Myles Hinton’s announcement that he has verbally committed to join the 2020 incoming class. He missed most of his junior season at Greater Atlanta Christian High School in Norcross, Ga., because of a shoulder injury. But he is expected to compete for a starting job soon after he arrives.

His brother, Christopher, is a five-star defensive tackle who has signed with Michigan for next fall. The Wolverines were Myles’ other finalist.

Their father is Chris Hinton, an offensive lineman who played 13 years in the NFL, mainly with Indianapolis. He was drafted by Denver in the first round in 1983 and was traded to the Colts as part of the deal for Stanford great John Elway.

Tom FitzGerald is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: tfitzgerald@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @tomgfitzgerald

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/Costello-will-return-to-Stanford-rather-than-13522939.php.

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