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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kansas football freshmen persevere at camp

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis smiles as he watches his offensive linemen move a sled during football practice on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis smiles as he watches his offensive linemen move a sled during football practice on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013.

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The changes that hit Kansas University’s football program this offseason have been well documented.

From bringing in new players to bolster the roster to plans for a new attack on both offense and defense, KU coach Charlie Weis’ program looks drastically different than the version he put on the field in 2012.

One thing that has not changed, however, is the way true freshmen go through fall camp. Wednesday afternoon, several KU rookies were made available to the media for the first time since arriving, and their tales about the ups and downs of camp life prove that the pecking order is still alive and well in college football.

“Coming in, I was very nervous,” former Bishop Miege quarterback Montell Cozart said. “It’s very different than high school camp. When they told me it was three weeks long, I was like, ‘Wow.’”

Added Shawnee Mission East grad Jordan Darling, who is competing with Cozart for reps at quarterback: “I did have the overwhelming feeling, which I’m sure most freshman QBs do. That first practice, your head’s spinning, you don’t know what’s going on. … It’s basically starting from scratch. The formations are different. The play calls are different. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard a play call, but it’s kind of like Chinese. It’s a mouth full. It takes about a week-and-a-half just to get the flow of the calls down.”

Since that time, Cozart, Darling and the rest of KU’s freshmen have settled in little by little and started to make steady progress. While efforts on the field have been praised, they have continued to be reminded where they stand in the grand scheme of things.

“Yeah, definitely,” tight end Ben Johnson said. “Any time you come into a program and you’re a freshman, it’s always gonna be like that to some degree. Little things like, ‘Hey, go put my playbook away,’ or ‘Yeah, get me a Gatorade.’ You kind of have to do it, but at the same time you have to earn respect.”

Darling said he, too, often was teased as one of the younger guys in camp, but he always looked at it as paying his dues.

“Your first couple days, they’ll just say, ‘Hey, go grab me a water,’ or something like that,” he said. “But nothing too major.”

One freshman who benefited from a head start is running back Colin Spencer, who joined the Jayhawks for spring football. Spencer opened camp competing to be the third-string F back behind Tony Pierson and Brandon Bourbon and has turned in solid performances during the past few weeks.

“I got that initial shock out of the way (last spring), and going into camp I was more used to the speed of things and able to concentrate more on the playbook and technique,” Spencer said. “I’ve heard from most of my coaches that I’ve been playing a lot faster in fall camp than I did in the spring. I haven’t noticed it as much as they have, but I’ve even had some of my peers on the team say that.”

Quarterback coming?

Former UCLA quarterback T.J. Millweard, a red-shirt freshman-to-be who was granted his release from UCLA last week, was at KU’s practice Wednesday morning and appears to be considering Kansas as his next destination.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Millweard, who was a member of the 2012 recruiting class, sat out last season as a true freshman at UCLA. He went to high school at All Saints Episcopal in Fort Worth, Texas, where he threw for nearly 4,000 yards and has ties to the Kansas City area.

“I grew up in the Midwest and the South,” Millweard said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times earlier this week. “UCLA is a great school, but it is a different fit for who I am. … Hopefully I’ll be able to find a spot that will give me the college experience I want.”

Millweard, who likely would walk on if he chooses Kansas, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2014.

Comments

TexiCaliHawk 1 year, 4 months ago

Living out here in the L.A. (with 'roots' in Texas hence the name), I can tell you that T.J. is the 'real deal' -- he just never felt comfortable with the fast-paced lifestyle out here and, consequently, didn't get an opportunity to develop into the QB he is capable of being.

I do like the potential of Cozart and Darling; however, I believe Millweard could give them both a run for their money over the next few years as even though I grew up/played Football in Kansas I can tell you that (for the most part) Texas HS 'greatness' > Kansas HS 'greatness' -- plus, given his size and strength as a pocket passer, he fits CW's profile to a 'T.J.' ;-)

Bryce Landon 1 year, 4 months ago

What the hell happened to the site????????????

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 4 months ago

If TJ has family in KC, then is he considered an in-state student. I have a hard time seeing a talented QB walking on at KU, especially if he's paying out-of-state tuition, but it's not impossible.

I saw some rumors that this had been in the works since before Pearce Slater committed, and that if Slater hadn't come to KU, this QB would have had a scholarship.

texashawk10 1 year, 4 months ago

You're not considered an in-state student just because you have family in the KC area. While I was at KU (less than 5 years ago), a student had to be a resident of the state of Kansas for 6 months (and an on campus address didn't count) to be considered an in-state student.

Jim Jackson 1 year, 4 months ago

TJ is stuck behind an All-American on UCLA's depth chart. Smart move on his part. I honestly had a feeling in the back of my mind that Charlie was not content going into 2015 with Cozart and Darling as the only 2 competing for the job and that potential transfer would come to the surface.

Hope he comes, Rock Chalk!

Mark Lindrud 1 year, 4 months ago

No need in worrying about Slater until we know what's going on. I'd like another QB to come in, but I love competition. There's no guarantee on who the QB replacement is for Heaps so bring the kid in and if he's the real deal then the QB spot stays solid in the future.

Chris Baker 1 year, 4 months ago

Millweard sounds like a good kid, talented too... I'm just not sure that Kansas is the place for mid-level QB's the way it once was. I think most people could agree that Weis is a great QB coach (Crist being an exception last year), and he's shown that recruiting that position in particular will always be his strong suit. Certainly we could see this kid developing into a strong contender for a starting spot in two years after Heaps is gone, but isn't it just as likely if not more likely that Weis is able to wrangle a 4 or 5-star QB in that same time period? (Heck he got two former 5-star's in his first week or so at KU, lol)

I guess I'm just saying that if playing time is his primary need, then I'm not sure Charlie Weis's KU is the best place for a 3-star QB. (Now if it were Mangino's KU... it might be a different story. If it were Gill's KU, this kid would get the royal treatment, haha!)

texashawk10 1 year, 4 months ago

Unless it's a local 4 or 5 star QB, KU won't land one until they start winning even with Weis at the helm.

David A. Smith 1 year, 4 months ago

Heaps was five stars. The drawing card that will bring them is still Weis, and his ability to get them ready for the NFL. But, winning will definitely add octane to the gas.

Mark Lindrud 1 year, 4 months ago

There's no guarantee we will get 4-5 star QB's in a few years. This kid was still highly ranked, has a really good build and with a couple years waiting for Heaps he could end up really good. By the time he is starting we may have a bunch of 4-5 star receivers for him to throw to and that can make a QB really good too.

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