LAWRENCE — The first thing you need to know about T.J. Millweard, Kansas’ latest transfer quarterback: The name is actually pronounced Mill-word, so hold off on all of those “Keep KU football Millweard” T-shirts — at least for the time being.
By RUSTIN DODD
The Kansas City Star
“Believe me,” Millweard says, “Coach (Charlie Weis) will call me Millwood or Millweird, (but) it is Millweard.”
The second thing you need to know about Millweard, a redshirt sophomore who spent 2012 at UCLA, is that he’ll be in the mix for Kansas’ starting quarterback spot, battling it out this spring in a five-man group that includes senior Jake Heaps and sophomore Montell Cozart, the two signal-callers who split the snaps last season. (Redshirt freshman Jordan Darling and junior Michael Cummings are also in the picture.)
The recent history surrounding transfer quarterbacks at Kansas may lead to some natural skepticism. Before Heaps’ struggles last season, it was former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist who failed to get his career going under KU coach Charlie Weis. But Millweard’s story is a little bit different. It’s not so much that he was looking for an escape hatch from UCLA. It’s more that he’s coming home.
Born in Texas, Millweard spent eight years growing up in Leawood. His mother is a Kansas grad who attended high school at Shawnee Mission East. And his closet was filled with Kansas stuff growing up. (He was a little young, he says, but one of his favorite childhood memories was going to watch Kansas at the 2003 Final Four in New Orleans.) If his father’s job didn’t take the family back to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex during middle school, he probably would have attended St. Thomas Aquinas or Rockhurst.
He signed with UCLA in 2012, graduating high school early to take part in spring practice. But the California vibe just didn’t mesh with his Texas roots. He was stuck behind starter Brett Hundley on the depth chart, but mostly, he says he just wanted to get closer to home. So early last fall, Millweard hustled to take a visit to Kansas.
“I fell in love with it, it’s beautiful,” Millweard said. “I had three cousins that went here. I remember it like it was yesterday, when I was up here watching Todd Reesing play quarterback. I loved everything about it, so I was like: ‘This is where I want to be.’”
Looking back now, Millweard says, he almost landed at KU out of All Saints High School in Fort Worth. Former coach Turner Gill’s staff had begun to recruit Millweard, calling him one day while he was at a Dallas Mavericks game.
“I had a visit scheduled here, but right before I canceled,” Millweard said. “The program wasn’t where I wanted it to be at the time, and I knew if I took a visit here, this is where I’d be coming. Again, I love everything about KU, I always have. If you go through my closet from high school, half of it was KU stuff.”
Millweard, 6 feet 3 and 210 pounds, was rated as Rivals’ 23rd-best pro-style quarterback prospect in the class of 2012. But Millweard doesn’t really like the pro-style tag. He ran a spread system in high school and gained plenty of yards on the ground. Maybe that will give him an advantage in new offensive coordinator John Reagan’s spread scheme. But for now, Millweard says he’s just happy it will be an open competition for the starting job.
“I feel like I’m a little underrated in my mobility,” Millweard said. “I just do what’s best for the team. Sometimes there’s going to be those opportunities where it’s third and five … all the receivers are covered and you’re going to have to tuck it and get a first down.”