Weis explains why he named Cozart starter

The Jayhawks went into spring ball with three quarterbacks in the mix for the starting job.

They came out with one.

After the conclusion of spring ball last week, Kansas named sophomore Montell Cozart its starter. Cozart was in a battle with senior and 2013 starter Jake Heaps and UCLA transfer T.J. Millweard.

During the Big 12 spring teleconference on Tuesday, coach Charlie Weis explained why his staff elected to make the call posthaste in a quarterback competition that seemed to be wide open going into spring ball.

“What we didn’t want to do was go into the summertime misleading our players about who the starting quarterback was,” Weis said. “After the spring game, which was really practice 15, we did post-spring evaluations with the whole team; I think in the eyes of the coaching staff, Montell had clearly played better than the other quarterbacks on our team.”

Cozart appeared in seven games last season after his redshirt was pulled as a freshman. He never got on track with his arm, and completed only 37 percent of his passes. But Cozart sparked the offense with his legs, rushing for 193 yards during a four-game stretch in November.

Weis indicated that if Cozart hadn’t emerged as the obvious starter, the competition could have lingered into the preseason.

But Cozart clearly was the most effective quarterback in Kansas’ spring game, rushing for 70 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries. And according to Weis, he was also clearly the most effective quarterback throughout the spring.

As a result, Weis saw no benefit in concealing from his players who the starter would ultimately be.

“We just thought it was in the best interest of our quarterbacks and our team to name him,” Weis said. “What would have happened was Jake would have been the leader in the summertime, then we would have come back [and] Montell would have gotten the first reps. We thought we would have mislead our team while they went through a tough, grueling summer. I think that it’s important for the players to know exactly where they stand.”

The Jayhawks know where they stand at quarterback. And now they can move forward around Cozart.

“I think it’s important if a guy has won a job, he should be put as the leader,” Weis said. “And based on 15 practices, not just the spring game, Montell had clearly won the job.”