LAWRENCE, Kan. – Head football coach Charlie Weis completed the Ice Bucket Challenge Friday night to wrap up the squad's second two-a-day session inside Memorial Stadium. In between practices over the noon-hour, requested quarterbacks and wide receivers were available to the media at the Anderson Family Football Complex.
There is no news to be told at the quarterback position. After sophomore Montell Cozart earned the job and was named the starter at the end of April, Weis thinks Cozart has a firm grip on his role and sees him progressing each day.
"The best thing for me with Montell is I just see him getting better every day," Weis said. "From the quarterback position, if you started to have ebbs and flows, highs and lows, that's what you really get concerned about. He's growing in confidence every day."
Coaching the quarterbacks in his third season at Kansas, Ron Powlus acknowledged Cozart had earned the starting role, while also touching on the players competing for the back-up job.
"Michael (Cummings) has been around for a while now," Powlus said. "He's got more experience than T.J. (Millweard), Michael is an athletic kid—he's a strong guy, he's got a strong arm, he's a competitor. He's a tough guy, and he brings a lot to the table when we put him in. T.J. has less experience than Michael, especially in game situations, but I think T.J.'s a sharp guy, he moves around pretty well and does a lot of good things mentally. We're going to continue to work on his footwork and his accuracy throwing the football."
Millweard, a sophomore competing for the backup job, spoke highly of what he has seen from the receivers during camp.
"I really like the group we have, we are really starting to come together and pick up the offense," Millweard said. "The first couple of days was hard and there were mistakes. You're going to have those mistakes here or there, but they are really picking it up. We have some great athletes and it's my job and the other quarterbacks' job to get the ball in their hands."
One receiver who has gained some attention throughout camp is 6-3 transfer Nigel King, who has the size and strength to go up and grab any ball thrown his way. Weis has spoken highly of King through the first week of camp not only on the field, but away from it in position meetings with wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau, as well.
"I've been very pleased," Weis said. "He's another big, physical guy, but he catches the ball, and he's not falling behind. He takes notes, diligent notes, and asks a whole bunch of questions. 'Hold on a second, Coach Kiesau, explain this to me again.' That's a sign of a polished guy who gets it. I've been pleased with him. He's playing himself up the depth chart."
As a sophomore in 2013, King appeared in 12 games for Maryland and was on the receiving end of a team-best four touchdown passes. He believes that he brings a different element of experience and competitive edge to the receiving corps.
"We're coming along," King said. "At Maryland I played with some pretty good receivers, it's where I got my edge to compete. Coming here I brought that with me and I basically want to get these guys going and help them do what they already know how to do."
In his first year as the receivers coach, Kiesau is also helping his players improve on things they already know how to do by going back to the basics and teaching them how to do the little things correctly in order for players to put themselves in the best position possible.
"I'm such a fundamentalist and pay great attention to technique," Kiesau said. "I really just want to break them down and start over. They kind of know what I expect of them and how were going to progress and get better this season."
Senior Justin McCay, who Kiesau has mentioned as a potential impact receiver, knows that spots on the field won't come easy with a deep and talented bunch of receivers on the roster.
"We are pretty deep as a receiving corps, but at the same time we are all competing," McCay said. "It's a friendly competition at the end of the day. We all want to be starters, but we all can't be starters, so I am competing with another guy and he's competing with another guy. It's all competition."
Kiesau is trying to build competition up and down the position group by blending veterans with less experienced guys in order to have a well-rounded group.
"I want to create competition with the entire room," Kiesau said. "You have Nick Harwell and Nigel who played in college, prepared in college and know what it takes each week to perform. They've caught balls in games, caught touchdowns so they know how to do it.
You have another set of guys who have 10-15 catches, Rodriguez Coleman, McCay and Tony Pierson. When you have a really good player and a not so great player behind him, nothing motivates him. If you have two really good players, the kid behind the starter is motivated and the starter is looking over his shoulder thinking he needs to make some great plays or he's going to take my job. That's my ultimate goal. I don't want to just have that one guy who is really good, but have several guys within the group have great years."
WEIS ACCEPTS CHALLENGE
Weis accepted the challenge from Jack Harry of NBC Action News 41-KSHB to partake in the Ice Bucket Challenge. The Ice Bucket Challenge is the social media campaign for the benefit of ALS research that's gone viral over the past week. It starts when someone gets challenged to pour a bucket of cold water and ice over their heads. If the person does not accept the challenge, that individual is supposed to make a donation to finding a cure to ALS. If the individual accepts it, the person films themselves pouring a bucket of ice water over their heads, posts it to the Internet within 24 hours, and issues the same challenge to others to do the same. Often times, a donation is made even after completing the challenge. After senior linebacker Ben Heeney soaked Weis in the freezing water, he extended the same challenge to Mack Brown, Bill Self, and Charlie Weis, Jr. As a part of the Ice Bucket Challenge, Weis also donated to the ALS fund.
NOTE: With the possibility of inclement weather, Kansas Athletics will determine at 10 a.m., Saturday whether or not to proceed with Football Fan Appreciation Day.
Weather permitting, the festivities for Fan Appreciation Day will take place at Memorial Stadium beginning at 1:30 p.m. Following practice, those in attendance will have the opportunity to get autographs from players and staff who will be set up around the newly renovated field inside the stadium.
To stay up to date during fall camp follow the Jayhawks online via 2014 Fall Camp Central and on Twitter @KU_Football.
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