Tropical Bowl a reunion for 2016 Kansas Jayhawks football offense
It’s becoming increasingly popular for top NFL prospects to blow off bowl games so as not to risk injury.
No such players fill the rosters for the Tropical Bowl, where non-prospects attempt to remove the word before the hyphen one last time.
The Tropical Bowl, played at 8 a.m. Central time Sunday in Daytona Beach, Fla., is not televised, but is available via subscription at FloFootball.com.
The “all-star” game and two practices that precede it give players a chance to be watched by NFL scouts in attendance. It could result in some players bypassed in the draft gaining invitations they otherwise might not have received to NFL camps.
For three former Kansas football players the game also serves as a mini-reunion of sorts in that all three players were at least part-time starters as juniors on the Jayhawks’ 2016 offense.
Guard Jayson Rhodes and receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez each started 11 games and quarterback Montell Cozart seven for the 2016 Jayhawks and are teammates on the American Team (Red) vs. the National Team (Blue) in the Tropical Bowl.
The KU offense for which the three players started the majority of games ranked 117th among 128 FBS schools with 4.96 yards per play and led the nation with 36 turnovers. The three Tropical Bowl selections who combined to start 29 starts as juniors combined for three KU starts as seniors. Rhodes, replaced in the starting lineup by Andru Tovi in the starting lineup, was the only of the three to play for KU as a senior.
Offered a chance to switch positions, Cozart instead graduated without participating in spring football and then transferred to Boise State.
Sharing the job with Boise State starter Brett Rypien, Cozart had by far the best season of his career. He completed 62.9 percent of is passes, threw 10 touchdowns, was intercepted just once, and averaged 7.8 yards per pass attempt. He also rushed for 361 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 4.2 yards per attempt.
In parts of four seasons at Kansas, Cozart threw 14 TD passes, 19 interceptions and averaged 5.7 yards per pass attempt. He also averaged 2.5 yards per rush and ran for two touchdowns at Kansas.
Gonzalez caught 62 passes for 729 yards (11.8 yards per catch) and three touchdowns during his lone season at KU. His hands weren’t as sticky when fielding punts as in other areas, such as catching passes.
Gonzalez was dismissed from the team before his senior year and transferred to an NAIA school in Lakeland, Fla., so that he could be eligible to play immediately. Gonzalez caught 60 passes for 1,018 (17 ypc) and 10 touchdowns at Southeastern.