Boise State needed a player like Montell Cozart. And Cozart needed a place like Boise State.
The senior quarterback transferred from Kansas over the summer with only three months to learn the offense and one short season of eligibility remaining.
It’s a tall task, but Cozart is the sort of guy who can do some pretty great things on the fly, on the field or off.
“The thing I’m most impressed with is how he handles himself, how quickly he’s learned the offense and how well he fits with our guys,” offensive coordinator Zak Hill said.
Then there’s the different dynamic Cozart brings once in pads: his mobility.
In 27 games (18 starts) at Kansas, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Cozart threw for 2,755 yards and rushed for 481. He had 14 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions.
“The coaches said I could bring a little bit of something different to the table,” said Cozart, who has been clocked in the 4.5-second range in the 40-yard dash. “We’ve been working on some things; we just want to be able to spice it up a bit.”
Boise State hopes that Cozart can be that additional kick its offense was missing last season, perhaps near the end zone. The Broncos’ 84.6 percent success rate in the red zone was 60th in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Junior Brett Rypien, the incumbent starter, has also focused on being more mobile this fall to extend plays.
“Obviously, (Cozart) can do some things athletically that we’re excited about,” Hill said. “... We’re going to have some different stuff. It’s the Boise offense; we’re going to have some things up our sleeve.”
Said Cozart: “First downs and touchdowns, that’s what we love. If I can come in and do that, be able to keep the offense going or put points on the board, that’s going to be something for defensive coordinators to be able to add into their scheme when they’re playing Boise State.”
Cozart, who was a team captain for the Jayhawks, noted that part of what has enabled him to grasp a new offense so quickly is the fact he played in “four or five” different systems at Kansas, a struggling program that was 8-40 in his time there. Boise State has won at least eight games every single season for 18 straight years.
“I wanted to come to a place with a winning tradition and success,” Cozart said. “No knock on Kansas, but I haven’t experienced it my last four years.”
Cozart is also doing his best to help the BSU defense solve one of its biggest challenges: the triple option. He said he’s helping the defense get a look at the style played by New Mexico and Air Force when he works on option drills in practice. Even in passing situations, Cozart said he’s heard the defense say to look out for his scrambling, that “they kind of get a sense of urgency when I come out.”
“He’s good, he’s an athlete, a lot different look than we get from Brett – obviously it’s more mobile, not to bash on Brett,” sophomore safety Kekoa Nawahine said.
Though his role will most likely be as a backup, Cozart said he has prepared like a starter and just wants to contribute to a winner.
“Making that big move, leaving, kind of stepping out on faith, I knew I had Brett in front of me,” Cozart said. “... (I thought), ‘something’s going to come up, they’re going to have a role for you and just be patient throughout the whole process, because it’s all going to work out.’ ”