Any time a team fails to win a game all season, no player should feel his job is safe.
As Kansas opened spring football this week, the Jayhawks have position battles that will impact David Beaty’s second season up and down the roster. No position is more important than the quarterback spot. Ryan Willis was impressive as a true freshman, stepping in when injuries hit and improving as the year went on, but his spot behind center is not cemented. He’ll have to continue to grow to keep the job after throwing more interceptions than touchdowns.
Let’s take a closer look at the quarterback battle at Kansas:
Departed: Micheal Cummings; T.J. Millweard.
Summer contenders: true freshman Tyriek Starks.
The skinny: Willis threw 10 interceptions and nine touchdowns as a freshman, completing 52.1 percent of his passes. Yet there were some encouraging signs as his competitive nature showed through on several occasions. Willis has potential if he continues to grow and the players around him improve alongside him.
Cozart has started games in every season of his career, 11 in all. Yet consistent production has escaped him all three seasons, with just two 200-plus-yard games. Ford started against Rutgers before suffering an injury that ended his season; he should add competition at the position.
Stanley could be the wild card after redshirting during his first semester on campus. A late addition to Beaty’s first recruiting class, Stanley has his first chance this spring to shine while battling for the “quarterback of the future” moniker. Class of 2016 signee Haehn is on campus but suffered a ACL tear as a senior and is rehabbing the injury. Fellow Class of 2016 signee Starks is a dual-threat quarterback who is a good fit for Kansas' spread attack and could be a hidden gem once he arrives in the summer.
Prediction: Willis emerges from the spring and preseason competition as a starter after building upon his debut season. However, the competition is intense, resulting in stronger overall depth and options at the quarterback position. Willis is the guy when the season opens, but the competition lingers on throughout the season.