LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Montell Cozart will be under center for new Kansas coach David Beaty when the Jayhawks begin their season Sept. 5 against South Dakota State.
Beaty announced Monday that the junior had won the competition for starting quarterback.
”He is a very bright, hard-working, smart dude,” said Beaty, who was hired to replace Charlie Weis last fall. ”He’s what you want. I love the dude that he is. Our team loves him.”
Cozart started three games as a freshman in 2013 and the first five games last season before Michael Cummings took over. But when Cummings sustained a season-ending left knee injury in the spring game, it appeared the job would be Cozart’s to lose.
Still, Beaty made him earn it in a competition with talented junior college transfer Deondre Ford and a pair of freshmen, Ryan Willis and Carter Stanley.
Part of the reason Cozart earned the job is he appears to fit Beaty’s offensive scheme, called the ”Air Raid.” Cozart may not have the biggest arm in the Jayhawks’ stable of quarterbacks, but he may be the most athletic.
”It’s fun – simple, fast and fun,” Cozart said of the offense. ”Going out there, the plays (are) so simple that you can go out there and be real confident and know exactly what you have to do on each and every play. The simple plays help a quarterback be confident.”
Cozart struggled with inconsistency as a sophomore. He was just 64 of 128 for 701 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Beaty has praised the progress Cozart has made not only in learning the system but in growing as a leader, and Cozart acknowledged that he has made strides in both areas.
”Absolutely, I’m getting better,” he said. ”That’s what it’s all about. I’m getting better every day and am learning new things that are going to give me more confidence.”
It doesn’t hurt that Cummings is still around the program. He and Cozart have been able to learn the Air Raid offense together, even though Cummings will spend the season on the sideline.
”It was hard seeing him go down in the spring game,” Cozart said. ”It was really tough for me because I’ve been under him for three years, learning under him.”
Cozart is aware that earning the starting nod in late August doesn’t guarantee he will be under center all season. The Jayhawks have churned through a handful of starters in his brief time on campus, from Jake Heaps to Cummings to himself.
That doesn’t mean that Cozart is afraid of a little competition, either.
He made that clear by earning the job in the first place.
”Things are going really well,” Cozart said. ”I’m looking forward to keep competing.”