University of Kansas

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart leads trio of captains

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart, left, is one of three team captains for 2015.
Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart, left, is one of three team captains for 2015. skeyser@kcstar.com

A week ago, Kansas’ Montell Cozart earned the title of starting quarterback. Now he has picked up another honor: Team captain.

Cozart, a junior from Kansas City, was one of three captains selected during a team vote over the weekend, KU coach David Beaty unveiled on Monday. Senior defensive end Ben Goodman and safety Fish Smithson were also chosen captains.

The designation of team captain is the latest positive sign for Cozart, who won the starting quarterback job after a strong preseason camp. Beaty has yet to announce a backup, but junior college transfer Deondre Ford and true freshman Ryan Willis appear to be in the mix.

A graduate of Bishop Miege, Cozart began last season as the starting quarterback before losing the job mid-season to Michael Cummings. Now Cozart will get another opportunity to make the position his own when the Jayhawks kick off the season against South Dakota State at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Beaty called the designation a “big honor” for Cozart.

“Just watching our team follow him, I think his workout habits (and) the way that he conducts himself each day, obviously, is one of the things that draws people to him,” Beaty said during the Big 12 coaches’ teleconference. “I don’t think those kids want to let him down. He never asks anyone to do anything that he doesn’t do, and (that) he doesn’t do twice as hard and put twice as much effort into.”

Goodman is a returning starter who has spent most of his career in various pass-rushing roles. Smithson, meanwhile, is a former junior college transfer who slid into a leadership role during the offseason after the departure of the entire starting secondary.

“So thankful my teammates trust in us to lead this team in the right direction,” Goodman tweeted on Monday. “Kansas fans we won’t let you down.”

Beaty hopes for ‘clean’ game

Five days before his college head coaching debut, Beaty has already crafted marching orders for his Kansas football team: Play a “clean game” in week one.

For Beaty, that means avoiding penalties, mental errors and other bits of sloppy play.

“One of our focuses has always been — and always will be — playing a clean game in that first game,” Beaty said. “A lot of people say you see sloppy play in the first game. Well, I don’t think it has to be that way. I think there has to be an emphasis on being clean that first game, being penalty free and smart about how you’re lining up.”

Jayhawks a five-point favorite in opener

Kansas, at the moment, appears to be a slight favorite over Football Championship Subdivision opponent South Dakota State. While many oddsmakers don’t set point spreads for games between FBS and FCS schools, the online sportsbook 5Dimes has set Kansas as a five-point favorite.

To reach Rustin Dodd, call 816-234-4937 or send email to rdodd@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rustindodd.

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