LAWRENCE — In the early stages of yet another quarterback battle at Kansas, Montell Cozart made quite the case for being the starter during the Jayhawks’ spring game Saturday.
Cozart, who will be a sophomore, completed six of 10 passes for 58 yards and rushed for 70 yards and two scores on seven carries. His Blue team, made up of mostly starters, rallied from a 7-0 halftime deficit and beat the White 20-10.
Cozart’s highlight came midway through the fourth quarter when he sprinted 60 yards down the sideline on an inside zone play before being pushed out at the 3. He closed the drive two plays later with a 2-yard rush into the end zone. “We ran it about four times in a row and it was getting real close for me to pull it,” Cozart said. “So then we ran it again and I just rolled it down there a little longer.”
The rest of the quarterbacks combined to complete nine of 29 passes for 125 yards. The quarterback competition is a three-way battle between Cozart, rising senior Jake Heaps, and T.J. Millweard, a transfer from UCLA. Although Cozart outshined his competitors on Saturday, coach Charlie Weis said he’s not even close to declaring who will be the quarterback in the fall.
Here are five other things to know from the Jayhawks’ spring game:
PARMALEE DAZZLES — With all the uncertainty surrounding who will be the quarterback, wide receiver Tre’ Parmalee might as well throw his name into the ring.
Parmalee opened the scoring with a bit of trickery for the White team. Quarterback Michael Cummings gave Parmalee the ball on what appeared to be a reverse. Instead of keeping it, though, Parmalee lobbed a 26-yard pass to Andrew Turzilli in the back of the end zone to put White up 7-0 in the second quarter.
Parmalee and Cozart both played at Bishop Miege High School, and Weis made sure to joke around about that after the game. “I said in the locker room after the game, we finally found a Bishop Miege quarterback that can throw,” Weis said. “Not only was it a good pass but he had a guy in his face when he threw it.”
WEIS IMPRESSED BY OTHER RECEIVERS — Nick Harwell, a transfer from Miami (Ohio), caught four passes for 31 yards, including a 15-yard pickup on third down early in the third quarter to keep the Blue team’s first touchdown drive alive. Turzilli hauled in three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown, and Weis said his receivers have shown much better hands throughout spring ball than they did last season. “I don’t know the last two weeks if we’ve had five dropped balls at the wide receiver position,” Weis said. “I think that if we were as an offensive staff to say what position on the team in the spring rose the most, it was clearly the wide receiver position.”
PIERSON PLAYS — Wide receiver Tony Pierson, who missed significant time last year because of lingering effects from a concussion, played but wore a non-contact red jersey. Weis said that was a cautious measure, and not a sign Pierson is less than 100 percent.
“We’ve had some days where he hasn’t worn the red jersey and has gotten banged around,” Weis said. “He had to get hit in the spring to let him know that he can get hit and not get a concussion, which that’s happened.”
BACKUPS DOMINATE FIRST HALF — Since most of the starters were on the Blue team, the original plan was to flip the score at halftime to give the Blue team a chance to play from behind since they would presumably be leading at the half. The players didn’t know this rule apparently, but after White took a 7-0 lead into halftime the score didn’t get reversed to begin the third quarter. “When I set up the teams personnel wise you would think the blue team would have a decided advantage which they did not show in the first half,” Weis said. “Second half they played much cleaner and better and more the way we’d like to be playing.”
RUNNING BACKS GET MOST OF THE WORKLOAD — As has been the case the last few years, the Jayhawks relied primarily on their running game Saturday. The teams combined to rush for 364 yards on 62 carries, while the offenses collected 183 yards passing on 39 attempts.