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.
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.”