By Richard Dunn     2/26/2016

From Jim Plunkett to John Elway, from Andrew Luck to Kevin Hogan, Stanford University perpetually has produced great quarterbacks and some of the best of all time in the NFL.

But while not every former Cardinal signal-caller is headed for pro football stardom; the program, at the minimum, typically features a smart, competitive athlete running the Stanford offense every season while the team competes for Pac-12 Conference titles and appearances in the Rose Bowl game.

With the fifth-year senior Kevin Hogan graduating and leaving behind the controls of the offense, Stanford signed its latest hotshot quarterback – Santa Margarita High’s K.J. Costello.

It is considered a significant signing because Stanford elected not to take a scholarship quarterback in the 2015 class. The Cardinal focused all of their attention on Costello at that position in the 2016 class and reportedly did not make a scholarship offer to any other quarterback.

The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Costello was rated as the No. 52 overall player in the country in the 2016 class, according to 247 Sports, and considered one of the top five pro-style quarterbacks in the 2016 class. He was highly regarded because of his size, pocket presence, arm strength and accuracy. As a junior, Costello threw for 3,123 yards and 23 touchdowns, while completing 229 of 380 pass attempts (with 10 interceptions). Last season he broke Carson Palmer’s career school passing yards record of 5,499 yards, along with breaking more than 19 of Palmer’s other records. Palmer is the starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals.

Costello was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game and completed 6 of 10 passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns. He carries a 4.3 grade point average.

When Costello arrives on the Palo Alto campus this year, he will be in competition for the starting quarterback spot with redshirt freshman Keller Chryst and redshirt sophomore Ryan Burns. Hogan was the winningest quarterback in Stanford history with 36 victories, three conference championships and two Rose Bowl trophies, and Cardinal coach David Shaw didn’t sign Costello for the program to take a step backward.

In total, 17 Santa Margarita athletes signed national letters of intent or celebrated their commitment to attend colleges on Feb. 3, the first day that high school seniors could sign scholarship documents for all sports. Here are the athletes with their college commitment in parentheses.

In addition to Costello, other Santa Margarita football players to sign were Sam Loy (Vanderbuilt), Dylan Crawford (Michigan), Preston Orellana (University of San Diego), Tanner Matthews (U.S. Naval Academy), Alec Stewart (Wyoming) and Tyler Oberholtzer (Stetson).

The field of Santa Margarita signees included water polo player Alex Piecuch (U.S. Naval Academy) and girls’ soccer players Machaela George (Santa Clara), Alexis Wolivar (UC Santa Barbara), Natalie Kennedy (Santa Clara) and Ally Leara (Embry Riddle Aeronautical University).

Other student-athletes who celebrated Ivy League, Division III or walk-on commitments were football players Grant Jaffe (Dartmouth) and Tanner Prenovost (Cal, preferred walk-on), soccer players Jack Gorrien (Saint Mary’s College of California) and Jonathon Stoop (UC San Diego), and baseball player Konnor Kwok (Claremont McKenna).

Ivy League and Division III colleges do not offer athletic scholarships, but many student-athletes commit to a college because of other types of academic- or school-based scholarships, awards or grants.

Crawford, ranked among the top 16 wide receivers in the 2016 class, also had a scholarship offer from Stanford, but selected the Wolverines. Crawford also played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game.

A kicker and punter, Loy was rated the No. 1 punter in America by Kornblue Kicking. The Trinity League’s Special Teams MVP, Loy was MaxPrep’s national leader for Kickoff Touchback Percentage at 98 percent, pinning 50 of 51 kicks into the end zone.

Orellana played right tackle for the Eagles, Matthews was a three-year starter at linebacker and Stewart, at defensive end, earned Trinity League co-Defensive Player of the Year for Santa Margarita.

Prenovost played center, guard and defensive line as a three-year starter, while Oberholtzer played on the offensive line, specializing at guard. Jaffe is a long snapper.

George and Kennedy played on the Eagles’ CIF Southern Section Division I girls soccer title team in 2014, Wolivar was a standout midfielder last season and Leara played two varsity seasons.

Piecuch was a two-year varsity letterman for the Eagles’ water polo team as the starting center defender, Stoop was a first-team All-Trinity League pick and second-team All-CIF selection at center back in soccer and Kwok is a baseball pitcher and DH. Gorrien has played soccer for the Pateadores’ U.S. Development Academy the past two seasons.