Jayhawks look to add more size to Cozart during his time at KU

Jayhawks look to add more size to Cozart during his time at KU

When one quarterback struggles, another steps in. If he can show that he can execute and give the offense a better chance of winning, he stays at his spot. The next step is to make sure he has the ideal body type in order to succeed at his position.

That is what the Kansas Jayhawks are dealing with in freshman quarterback Montell Cozart, who gradually took over starting duties midway through the season.

The Right Body Type

Coming out of Bishop Miege High School, Cozart came to Kansas at 6 feet 2 inches and 180 pounds, thinner and slender than most college quarterbacks.

Compared to Jake Heaps, who opened the season as the starting quarterback, he is 6 feet 1 inches tall. Despite being shorter than Cozart by one inches, Heaps weighs 210 pounds.

Cozart and Heaps are different quarterbacks in terms of size as well as how their strengths on the field. Heaps has been touted as a heavy passer his entire playing career while Cozart comes in with mobility being a big strength of his.

At 180 pounds, Cozart will seek to add more weight. But Cozart wants to be able to do the same things he is able to do know after bulking up to the ideal size.

“You want them to get as big as they possibly can without losing their quickness,” Kansas head coach Charlie Weis said.

When Weis was the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, the team drafted Tom Brady out of Michigan in 2000. Brady came into the NFL at 188 pounds and reached 217 pounds at the conclusion of his rookie campaign.

But with Brady being 6 feet 5 inches, it was an easy task for him to add 29 pounds.

Alongside making sure he keeps his speed, Holsopple’s challenge is to make find an ideal and achievable weight goal while Cozart stands at 6 feet 2 inches.

When Weis was asked for his ideal size for Cozart, he said he would leave that up to Holsopple. Holsopple said he has no ideal number set for Cozart, but said he continues to evaluate the players and will work with Cozart to see what is best for him.

Staying Healthy

The biggest concern with Cozart currently at 180 pounds is being able to stay healthy while taking hits from defensive players twice his size. Although all college quarterbacks come in different sizes, Cozart’s size and stature is not the most ideal for his position.

“If you stay at that size, you could get hurt,” said Scott Holsopple, the strength and conditioning coach for the Jayhawks.

Weis said he’s seen Cozart enough to know that he can take a hit while playing a football game. At the same time, he knows that Cozart can’t remain at this size during his entire time as a Jayhawk.

“He’s plenty big enough,” Weis said. “Would I like him to be more than 180 lbs? You bet.”

Cozart has showed no signs of injury so far as a freshman. He saw no action in the first five games of the season while getting a lot of snaps in practice behind Heaps.

“If you can do your job and do well at it everyday and avoid injury, that’s good,” Holsopple said. “If you can get stronger, that is better.”

Cozart has appeared in each of the last six games, playing only a full game in one of them. But despite having to share playing time with Heaps, he has thrown 56 times and has run 58 plays where he has scrambled.

“You’re looking for a guy that’s durable,” said Dan Shonka, a former NFL scout and a scout for Ourlads Scouting. “When you’re 180 pounds and you have 11 players wanting to hit you, it’ll be tough to survive.”

Being Able To Execute

When Kansas snapped its 27-game Big 12 losing streak against West Virginia on November 16, it was Cozart at quarterback for the Jayhawks. While he didn’t play a perfect game, he showed flashes in the game that pleased the Kansas coaching staff.

“You’ve got to treat him a little bit differently than you would with someone else,” Holsopple said. “Every position you approach differently. Then you see what’s best for the player.”

With Cozart as the primary quarterback as a freshman, it is hoped that the team can keep him as the starter for the next three years and see improvement while looking to turn the program around.

But as his time at Kansas progresses, Holsopple continues to evaluate and will communicate with Weis and the rest of the coaching staff to see where to place him with his size to the point where he can get the job done.

“I’m sure Weis knew they wanted to add some size to him when they recruited him,” Shonka said. “But it will be a big test to have a guy for four years and make sure he can get to the size he needs to reach when you are 6 feet 2 while playing at a high level.”

Dolphins situation catches attention of local players

Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin has been keeping his emotions bottled inside for quite some time. How long? Possibly eight months.

On October 30, it was clear something was wrong with Martin.

Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported last week that Martin flipped out and smashed his food tray on the ground. He left the team and has not returned since then.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Sunday that Martin’s emotional breakdown was due to a teammate, Richie Incognito, who was suspended by the Dolphins.

Incognito left Martin a voice mail in which he used a myriad of slurs and threatened to kill him.

“It’s just sad because it’s a bad rep for football,” said Kansas junior punt returner Connor Embree. “We know to treat one another like blood brothers.”

As reports continue to emerge, Incognito has been universally labeled as a bully.

“The funny thing is, we talk about how different the NFL is,” said Mike Lubitz, a sports producer for 940 WINZ. “It’s still a workplace and you should feel comfortable going into work.”

The national media has pointed a small portion of the blame on Martin for not speaking up and informing head coach Joe Philbin on the issue. But the media has laid the blame on Philbin, general manager Jeff Ireland and teammates for not being aware nor putting an end to Incognito’s actions.

“The teams that run fairly well, you don’t hear things like this because they have good locker room leadership,” Lubitz said. “The Dolphins don’t have that.”

While fans and the media continue to decide who to blame, Lubitz said the front office has to take responsibility.

“I think it goes throughout the organization,” Lubitz said. “Incognito has a history of things like this, and teams need to take consideration of this when they evaluate a guy, like Incognito, and possibly signing them.”

But football players at Kansas said this is a rare occasion and with the amount of leadership in their locker room, this would never happen.

At the same time, the players realize that bullying can happen at any age and must be prevented in a locker room atmosphere.

“I think it’s crazy for guys to be so old and bully someone,” said senior offensive lineman Aslam Sterling. “By the time you’re in the NFL, you should be more mature. It wouldn’t happen in our locker room.”

Q&A with Craig Hoffman

Farzin Vousoughian
Scott Reinardy
Nov. 4, 2013
Jour 585

After briefly spending time with at Middle Tennessee State University, Craig Hoffman figured out what he wanted to spend the rest of his life covering sports on the radio. Hoffman transferred to Syracuse University and spent countless hours putting in work at WAER, the student radio station at the University.

Hoffman went on to establish connections outside of Syracuse, which allowed him to get to where he is today, as a host at ESPN Dallas. Hoffman took a few minutes to sit down and discuss the grueling and challenging tasks that have helped him land a couple of jobs since graduating from Syracuse in 2012.

Farzin Vousoughian: When did you know that you wanted to cover sports for a living?

Craig Hoffman: It’s actually kind of funny because my parents knew before I did. I knew when I was 18, a freshman at Middle Tennessee State. The guy who gave me a tour there gave me a tour of the radio station. He had just graduated, so he was not that much older and still worked on the student station. He invited me to see his radio show. They put me on for 10 seconds the first time I was there and I said “you know what? I this is awesome.” I went to Middle Tennessee State for something completely different, music engineering. I got involved and I went home so South Carolina for fall break. Six weeks in, I told my parents I wanted to change majors. I had interest in sports, but not specifically covering it until I was 18.

FV: So how did you go from music to sports?

CH: Music and sports have always been my two biggest things. I was a huge sports fan growing up; I’d always play pickup basketball two or three times a week. I loved playing sports more than watching them. I’ve always been a sports guy and I was also a DJ growing up too. I was a music producer at MTSU, so I fell in love with radio. But, I had the top sports show and I was the lead beat writer and columnist for my student newspaper too. I covered football and both basketball teams heavily while I was there.

FV: You obviously graduated from Syracuse, so what made you want to leave MTSU?

CH: The student involvement at MTSU was not what I was looking for. We had a show called “MTSU Live,” but we were never live. We couldn’t get the crew to make it work, so we taped it. I knew MTSU wasn’t the right place for me and Syracuse was known for being one of the best journalism schools. I gave up what I had, which was a lot. It wasn’t easy, but I wanted to push myself and go for more. I decided it was a move I needed to make.

FV: You interned at Bristol, Conn. for ESPN Radio. How did you land that internship? You must have had good connections to get that.

CH: Part of it was networking. The other part was busting my tail and being qualified. You have to be good and know what you’re doing so you can have the skills. The way ESPN does internships, they treat you like you’re an employee at the entry level. They want you to do back to your school, come back to do the same job, but a level up. There are a lot of alums I got to know from Syracuse, one of them being ESPN fantasy sports analyst Matthew Berry. He came on my radio show and outside of my show, he was willing to help me out. I had to sell myself by proving I could do anything they asked me.

FV: What was the biggest takeaway from that internship?

CH: Colin Cowherd gave me some of the best advice on how to be a good host on a national stage, which is where I’d like to end up one day. I’d like to travel and accumulate stories and share them on air. If you want to be a national host, you have to identify with people everywhere. You must know your audience and connect with them. I grew up in the northeast and have made my rounds to different parts of the country. I’m now in the south and I’d like to move west eventually. Colin told me to travel every chance you get. So when I do get that chance, I try to travel because you meet people and get stories. That’s valuable in radio as a host.

FV: You got your first gig in the summer of 2012, just two months after you graduated, with Great Plains Media. What do you think allowed you to get that job?

CH: I was doing sports radio, but part of what got me the job was that I was versatile and had a unique skill set. Most people who do music radio can’t do sports radio and vice versa. I can do both. That’s an odd combination and they needed someone like that. It can teach you efficiency.

FV: Getting that job so quickly out of college while most people struggle to find a job out of college, that must have been an exciting moment for you.

CH: It was a weird situation. There’s obviously excitement. I know very well qualified people who graduated before me and couldn’t get job for months. I had one within two months of graduation. I had some nervousness of being unemployed. But there’s also apprehension. I’m going to the middle of nowhere and don’t know anyone from Kansas, being far from home. What if it doesn’t work? I ended up being terminated in December. During my time, I didn’t fit. I don’t regret taking the job because I don’t know when the next job would have came. I still learned a lot. I knew I was going to have a show, so I took it.

FV: You’re now in Dallas after landing a job with ESPN Dallas in April. Do you feel like you now fit in Dallas?

CH: Fit is really important. I definitely feel like I fit where I am now. Dallas is a smart, passionate sports town. It’s much more big-time. The thing that’s difficult about a town like Lawrence, KU runs everything in that city. If you’re not sucking up to Charlie Weis or Bill Self, the athletic department won’t be happy with you. In a small town, the football coach could theoretically get you fired. There’s been examples of this when people have been taking off the beat and it is something I saw back home in South Carolina. In Lawrence I was trained differently. In Syracuse, the media is competitive and you can ask (Jim) Boeheim anything. I would ask Bill Self a couple hard questions and I don’t think he was very pleased with my questions at times. Some beat writers try to connect with the coach so they can try to get invited for dinner. That’s not how I was taught to do journalism. You have to walk a fine line too with coaches and an athletic department, depending where you are.

FV: I know your current station, ESPN Dallas, was owned by ESPN until a month ago. But you still worked for ESPN and interned for them. It’s every aspiring journalist’s dream to be part of the “worldwide leader in sports.” What’s that like?

CH: It’s a great place to work because ESPN and Disney focus on hiring good people. There are very few people at ESPN who no one likes. You hear rumors about how certain people are perceived by others. But in the end, there are very, very few people who I came across at ESPN who are dislikable or didn’t want to help. It’s part of the culture, especially in Bristol. They encourage you to take a day to talk to someone in another department if it interests you. They’re willing to risk and try new things. It’s like taking 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. You learn a lot as you become a part of it.

FV: You’re 23 right now, but you’ve done so much. What’s your favorite moment covering sports?

CH: I’d say covering Syracuse during the NCAA tournament during my senior year. The most memorable moment, also a sad moment, was when they lost to Ohio State in Boston. In 2012. It was a heart-breaking loss and my final game I covered as a student reporter at Syracuse. But the experience was great and I hope to have more of those along the way.