Wednesday, April 20, 2016

KU quarterbacks Cozart, Ford granted hardship waivers

Both will open 2016 season as red-shirt juniors with 2 years of eligibility left

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart hands off to running back Ryan Schadler during practice, Thursday, April 7, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart hands off to running back Ryan Schadler during practice, Thursday, April 7, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.


Kansas University quarterbacks Montell Cozart and Deondre Ford on Wednesday received word from the Big 12 Conference that their applications for hardship waivers had been accepted.

As a result, both will receive an extra year of eligibility and enter the 2016 season as red-shirt juniors with two years of eligibility remaining.

Before suffering season-ending injuries early on, both KU QBs started games under center for the Jayhawks during the 2015 season. Cozart, a Bishop Miege High graduate, started three of the first four games and Ford, a junior college transfer, started Week 3 at Rutgers.

"It is great to see the Big 12 is giving Montell and Deondre a year back after both of these guys had their junior seasons end prematurely," KU coach David Beaty said in a news release. "They have worked tirelessly with our medical staff to get healthy and we are fortunate to have two more seasons with them in our program.”

With returning eight-game starter Ryan Willis nursing an injured wrist for the past couple of months, Cozart, who injured his non-throwing, left shoulder during the fourth game of the 2015 season, worked this spring as the No. 1 quarterback on KU’s depth chart.

Being on the top of the depth chart is nothing new for Cozart, who opened each of the past two seasons as KU’s Week 1 starter and has started at least three games during all three of his college seasons to date.

But the uncertainty of whether 2016 would be his last ride was something that weighed on his mind throughout the past several months.

“If I get that, that’d be a blessing,” Cozart said of the hardship waiver in early March. “But if it is my senior year, I just want to make the most of it and kind of go out with a bang and leave Kansas on the good side of things.”

Cozart said then that he was 85-90 percent recovered from the severe sprain that kept him out of most of his junior season. One month later, the 2015 team captain had elevated that status to 90-95 percent.

“Every day I can just feel myself getting better and back to normal,” he said on April 6. “It’s been a great process.... Maybe if it was my throwing arm I would feel (more concerned), but it’s my off shoulder and I feel comfortable with it and feel real confident where it’s headed. It’s strengthening and getting back to normal and I feel really good.”

Wednesday afternoon, Cozart hit Twitter to share his excitement about the news: “I am extremely blessed and grateful to receive hardship waiver due to injury last year,” Cozart Tweeted. “An extra year of work! God speed.”

With Willis injured and limited to mostly mental reps during spring practices, Cozart remained in the mix for the starting job. He was less than impressive during the annual spring game on April 9, but Beaty said that performance (10-of-19, 115 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions) was not indicative of the kind of spring Cozart had.

There also has been some discussion about Cozart moving to another position. But as of the spring game, a move did not seem imminent. It remains to be seen how this news might impact Cozart’s future.

Although uncertainty at the game’s most important position remains, many expect Willis to enter the season as the Jayhawks’ starter. However, Beaty said Tuesday that the race was still wide open and hotly contested.

“We’ve got a real battle on our hands,” the second-year KU coach said. “They know the way to operate. You’ve gotta earn it here. And the way you earn it at quarterback is you manage the game, you get us into good, highly efficient plays and you move the team. And you do it, all along the way, (while also) being a leader for our team.”

We’re excited about moving forward. Obviously, the big thing is just getting those guys enough reps to be able to give us a good view of who is who. That’ll be kind of key in terms of what kind of decision we make for who (our quarterback) will be.”


Joe Ross 6 years ago

Another year is of no benefit to Cozart if this coaching staff insists on wasting his talents. Move him to a position he can be productive in. Kerry Meier ring any bells?

Brett McCabe 6 years ago

It's interesting with Montel. He has an absolute cannon, seems like a great team leader and a hard worker, but it just hasn't clicked behind center.

I do wonder what he would look like as a wideout - and admire the fact that he approached the staff to offer his services.

I think that it still comes down to this: the staff is not confident in any other QB to back up Willis, so they are keeping Cozart at QB2. Nothing else makes much sense to me.

Dirk Medema 6 years ago

And until you have a 1st stringer to lead the other players through practice, you have to do the best you can with what you've got. We're scraping spring ball for half the team (O) if we move Mozart to WR before we have a 1 much less a 2nd string.

Even Meier practiced at QB almost exclusively for the first 2 years, and worked into reps at WR rather slowly. We're not there yet with Cozart.

Patience is a virtue, especially with this iteration of our team.

Chris Bailey 6 years ago

What is baffling to me is that Beaty is still doing the very same thing we've heard since Cozart arrived. We hear every time that he's having a very competitive camp and clearly he can play in practice but can't show up during a game. Cut our losses and move him elsewhere. We're wasting time!

Brad Sherp 6 years ago

I keep hearing that Cozart looks great in practice, and I keep seeing him look HORRIBLE on Saturdays. I am sure he is a great kid, and a hard worker. I wish him nothing but the best after football, but I have seen enough of him behind center to know that he is more of a liability than an asset during games. When he is behind center are you excited to see what he will do next, or are you afraid to see what he will do next? I am definitely more afraid.

I have nothing against Cozart, but why keep giving him chances when there are other QBs on the roster who deserve a look? We know Cozart has a horrible completion percentage on deep balls (unless you want to count his interceptions as completions, then he would be all-Big 12).

To me, the only situation where Cozart makes sense taking a lot of snaps is if you think that your OL will be horrible, and you don't want to risk injuring Willis or Stanley. I would rather see Cozart running for his life with his speed than see Willis getting knocked around in the pocket again. Cozart would be interesting in a run-first, wildcat offense...just not the air raid.

Robert Brock 6 years ago

Cozart must be good at something. I wonder if he has tried Curling?

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