Kansas names Montell Cozart starting quarterback

Graham Watson
April 17, 2014

Kansas hasn’t had a whole lot of success with quarterbacks under coach Charlie Weis, but the Jayhawks are hoping those fortunes will change in 2014.

Weis announced Thursday that sophomore Montell Cozart won the starting role coming out of spring football.

Cozart started three games last season and played in four others, but was in a fierce quarterbacking battle with 2013 starter Jake Heaps and UCLA transfer T.J. Millweard. Weis had nothing but praise for Cozart during spring practices and during last Saturday’s spring game, Cozart was the best quarterback on the field.

Offense was a major concern for the Jayhawks last season. They ranked 117th nationally in total offense with 294.5 yards per game and 118th in scoring offense with 15.8 points per game. Kansas managed just nine passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The Jayhawks had just one multi-passing touchdown game all season.

And Cozart was far from a quarterbacking star last season.

In his seven appearances, Cozart completed 23-of-63 passes (36 percent) for 227 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed 66 times for 214 yards and a score.

But those numbers apparently skyrocketed this spring. Weis told reporters earlier this spring that Cozart was completing 75 percent of his passes. During the spring game, Cozart completed a team-best 6-of-10 passes for 58 yards and also rushed for 70 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries. Cozart’s ability to be a dual-threat is what has made him a nice fit for first-year offensive coordinator John Reagan’s system.

If Cozart can hold on to the starting role, it will likely end a disappointing college career for Heaps. Heaps was the No. 1 pro-style quarterback coming out of Skyline High School in Sammamish, Wash. When he signed with BYU, it was a major coup as several other programs, including Notre Dame, were vying for his services.

But his career never really took off.

In 2010, Heaps opened the season sharing time with Riley Nelson before Nelson was injured and Heaps was declared the undisputed starter. He completed 57.2 percent of his passes for 2,316 yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and surpassed Ty Detmer’s freshman touchdown record.

But things changed in 2011 when Heaps struggled during his first five starts and was ultimately benched for Nelson, who went on to be the starter. Heaps transferred to Kansas, sat out a season and has failed to replicate any of the magic he saw in 2010.

But given the fact that the Kansas quarterbacking position has never maintained any sort of consistency under Weis, there might still be a chance for Heaps to end his career on a high note.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter