Kansas University football coach David Beaty late Friday morning revealed that sophomore quarterback Ryan Willis recently suffered an injured wrist playing pick-up basketball and will be limited during spring practices, which begin Sunday.
The full extent of Willis’ injury was not revealed but it is believed that he will still participate in various portions of spring practice including working on his drops, mental reps and other aspects that minimize the risk of contact.
“We will monitor Ryan’s injury and he will be back as a full participant whenever our doctors allow it,” Beaty said.
Willis, a Bishop Miege graduate who started eight games last season in place of opening-week starter Montell Cozart, who was injured midway through the season, set a handful of freshman passing records and showed off his impressive arm strength and toughness as a competitor.
With 1,719 yards and nine touchdowns, he became the sixth freshman since 1937 to lead the team in passing and threw at least one touchdown pass in six straight games. That stretch included a career-best 350 yards on 35-of-50 passing in KU’s loss to Texas Tech.
Willis also played in relief during two other games, the season opener and KU’s loss at Iowa State.
His strong season was one of the few bright spots for KU football during last year’s 0-12 campaign and it was expected that Willis would enter 2016 as the clear-cut favorite to win the starting job.
That may change with him limited this spring and KU still having other options at quarterback. Cozart is still on the roster and moving closer to being fully healthy and red-shirt freshman Carter Stanley and returning senior Deondre Ford also figure to get more reps in the wake of Willis’ injury.
KU also has walk-on freshman Dagan Haehn in town for spring practices, though he, too, is coming off of a significant injury, and will get help at the position this summer when incoming freshman Tyriek Starks reports to campus.