Does the extra year of eligibility make it easier to move Montell Cozart?


For the past couple of years a lot of the talk surrounding Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart focused on what other position Cozart could play as much as it did on his qualities as a quarterback.

And given the Bishop Miege graduate’s elite-level athleticism, that type of chatter made perfect sense.

However, as things stood entering the 2016 season — spring football wrapped up last week — I was one of the rare people who still believed that Cozart, incredible athlete or not, actually served this team best as a quarterback.

After all, even though freshman quarterback Ryan Willis showed a ton of potential last season and appears to be poised for big things in the future, he missed most of the spring with an injured wrist and the rest of the position behind him is wildly inexperienced. Therefore, Cozart, even in a back-up type role, can still bring something of value to the roster as a passer. Besides, if he were to move to wide receiver, he’d be plugging himself into a deep and talented position and competing for playing time with teammates who have been running routes and catching passes their entire lives.

Those were my thoughts before Wednesday.

Kansas backup quarterback Montell Cozart watches the scoreboard against Baylor during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013.

Kansas backup quarterback Montell Cozart watches the scoreboard against Baylor during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. by Nick Krug

But now, in the wake of the news that Cozart, along with fellow KU quarterback Deondre Ford, had been granted a hardship waiver that came with an extra year of eligibility, my mind is starting to go to that place that so many other minds already have been.

Should Montell Cozart switch positions?

Cozart himself was asked this question earlier this spring and, as much as the young man fancies himself a quarterback, he proved that he truly is a team player by saying he inquired about switching positions if that was what the coaches thought was best for the team. It wasn’t then. But it might be now. And that extra year of eligibility has a lot to do with it.

See, with just one year left, it would be tough for Cozart to fully make the jump from QB to wide receiver or DB or wherever else they thought he might be able to help. After all, even former Jayhawk JaCorey Shepherd, who went on to become a sixth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, needed a full year and then some to make the transition from wide receiver to cornerback. And that switch is a much easier transition than going from quarterback to anywhere.

So that’s what is so intriguing about that extra year that Cozart now has at his disposal. If they make the move now, he could spend the summer, preseason camp and all of the 2016 season easing into the transition and then be ready to truly make some noise at his new position heading into next spring.

With young QBs Carter Stanley (red-shirt freshman) and Tyriek Starks (incoming freshman) in place and ready for action — along with Ford and Keaton Perry on the roster for QB insurance — the Jayhawks have the bodies behind Willis to give Cozart a shot somewhere else. Besides, it's not like he couldn't move back if something happened to Willis or the need popped up.

That’s not to say Cozart could not move at a faster pace and contribute in a different role as soon as the 2016 season, but the extra year takes some of the pressure off and gives him time.

The only thing left to do now is to figure out the best spot to move him and then pull the trigger.

Having said all of that, don’t count Cozart out of the QB race just yet. Willis did next to no throwing this spring because of that wrist injury and Cozart has never been anything but supremely confident in his skills.

Like it or not, there exists the real possibility that Cozart could be lined up under center for the first offensive snap of the season just as he was in each of the past two seasons.

The good news, though, is this: If he’s not, it now looks as if there’s time to find him somewhere else to contribute.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart. by Nick Krug


Brett McCabe 6 years ago

Per Kerry Meier, the change might also give Cozart a chance to play after he graduates. Big leap? Yeah, but I'm guessing not many people would have put Kerry into the pros when he made the move from QB. You never know what might happen.

As far as the WR position goes, we went 0-12 last year, it can't be that loaded.

Jonathan Allison 6 years ago

even if we had Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, and Randy Moss at that position it wouldn't matter if you can't get them the ball.

Chris Bailey 6 years ago

I was thinking the same thing about a very "deep" and "talented" position. We don't have any position on the team where we have too much talent. If we did we wouldn't be going 0-12.

Dirk Medema 6 years ago

With a 60 man roster, there's no position that's loaded, tho the description of the QB's seems fairly accurate: there are bodies.

Humpy Helsel 6 years ago

Make the jump dude. Some NFL teams have always had a thing for big, fast, a little cocky (confident) athletic dudes who can play the slot and go over the middle, special teams including return punts and kicks when needed, wildcat, throw if needed, and yes, block as in picking up blitzes with size and strength to take on linebackers. Spot QB in an emergency. Versatility saves roster spots in the NFL. Believe me, if Coach needs him to play QB, he'll pull him back over. In the meantime, learn it all. Maybe a little strong safety and spot corner. On this team, he is being wasted standing over there on the sidelines waiting for the QB to get hurt. On this team, let's get the dude on the field.

Michael Lorraine 6 years ago

I like Montell. He's the type of high character athlete we should be recruiting. The coaching staff needs to figure out where he can be most productive.

Dirk Medema 6 years ago

Joe brought up Kerry's switch yesterday, and it's appropriate, though maybe a bit optimistic, for Brett's comparison today.

It also good to remember from Kerry's transition that he continued to practice as the back up QB, and wasn't until his last year (I think) that he actually started practicing at WR.

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