You will be hard-pressed to find a Boise State football player with a bigger smile this week than senior quarterback Montell Cozart.
This is the fifth season of college football for Cozart, but it is the first time he will play in a bowl game. After winning eight games in four seasons at Kansas, he transferred to Boise State last summer.
The Broncos (10-3) will play in their 16th straight bowl game Saturday in the Las Vegas Bowl against Oregon.
“I honestly didn’t know he had never been to one until (Wednesday),” junior quarterback Brett Rypien said Thursday. “All week he’s been like, ‘This stuff is awesome.’ I’m like, ‘Montell, this is what a bowl game is.’ Then I realized it was his first one. It’s not like you take it for granted, but you really appreciate it when you see how much it means to him.”
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Cozart came to Boise State hoping to contribute for a team that could win a championship. Now he is savoring the experience of the postseason, hoping to finish with a victory.
“Now, one more check on the list, and that’s winning a bowl game,” Cozart said. “Coach (Zak) Hill said, ‘You’ve got to go out in style, get one more.’ Coach (Bryan) Harsin as well, I was talking to him on the way to practice and he was like, ‘We’ve got to finish you off right.’ ”
With his positive mentality, his team-first attitude and his versatility, Cozart has that effect on players and coaches, who hope to get him an 11th win. Cozart has played a major role in his lone season as a Bronco, completing 59 of 93 passes for 747 yards with 10 touchdowns to one interception, plus 361 yards rushing and another four touchdowns, and even three receptions for 45 yards.
“He’s been so unselfish, it’s made this year a lot easier than it should’ve been,” Rypien said of Cozart and the team’s use of two quarterbacks, particularly early in the season.
Cozart said he hopes to continue to play football after this year, preferably at quarterback, but is open to playing another position. He feels playing in multiple offenses and showing his athleticism this season could help him with any needed transition.
Most locker rooms would love to have a player like Cozart, who tweeted a photo of himself with the Mountain West championship trophy that’s been “liked” more than 1,400 times.
“That says it all right there ... this guy just wanted to be part of a winning program,” Harsin said. “That was a big key to our success. ... Not many people do something he did, leave a program to be a part of something in his position and actually get it done.”
Even as Rypien has taken more snaps in recent weeks, Cozart has been right there with him, helping out, not sulking. His selflessness is a reward in itself, but a chance to get two trophies in as many games is nice, too.
“When you sign up to play football at a Division I school, you want to go experience these types of things,” Cozart said. “For me to experience both in my last year has been nothing but a blessing.”
BOWL WEEK WINDING DOWN
A handful of players who weren’t practicing Thursday helped provide approximately 400 pairs of shoes to low-income kids at a Las Vegas school. Following practice, the team rode the 550-foot High Roller observation wheel along the Strip.
On Friday, the final press conference for both teams will be held, and then they’ll hold their respective walk-through practices. Downtown’s Fremont Street Experience will host a pep rally Friday night.