Kansas coach Lance Leipold ‘very impressed’ by QB Jason Bean’s development

photo by: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Kansas quarterback Jason Bean warms up before a game against Iowa State on Oct. 2, 2021, in Ames, Iowa.

Although much of the conversation about Kansas’ quarterbacks centered on Jalon Daniels earlier this month during Big 12 football media days, coach Lance Leipold made it known that he’s still looking forward to the preseason performance of Jason Bean.

“Jason Bean has a lot better understanding (of the offense) and is doing a lot better than where he was last September, so I’m anxious to see him as well,” Leipold said. “I think that is good.”

Daniels started the last three games for the Jayhawks, including the surprising 57-56 overtime victory at Texas in which he threw the winning two-point conversion pass to fullback Jared Casey, and is expected to remain in that role when the season opens Sept. 2 against Tennessee Tech.

Before Daniels, though, was Bean, a nine-game starter who decided to transfer to Kansas from North Texas in March 2021 and only missed the outing at Texas because of an unspecified injury.

That injury opened the door for Daniels, who was supposed to redshirt last season as a sophomore. Instead, Daniels decided to forgo that plan and finish out the year on the field.

And while Leipold didn’t outright make the proclamation that Daniels would be the starter, all signs are pointing to that being the case — and Bean resuming as his backup.

“We’ve told him where he is,” Leipold said. “We’ve told him what he has to improve upon. He embraces it. He understands it. He hasn’t shied away from anything, and again, he’s the kind of guy that, because he’s pretty low-key in what he does and how he goes about it, you don’t really notice (anything) when you’re trying to read his body language. But I’m very impressed because he’s another guy that is so much more comfortable in what we’re doing.”

Bean threw for 1,131 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions as a redshirt sophomore at North Texas and was named Kansas’ starting quarterback hours before the season opener against South Dakota. He proceeded to throw for 1,252 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions and run for 400 yards and two touchdowns while with the Jayhawks.

What made preseason camp and the process of selecting a quarterback difficult for the coaches was that they were hired after spring practice had concluded and the offense had to be installed when camp opened in August.

“I think last year was a big experience year for me, just getting comfortable with the offense and trying to learn the ins and outs of the offense and trying to understand why we’re running certain plays,” Bean said in March.

There were suggestions after last season that he might move to wide receiver given the Jayhawks’ relative inexperience at the position and his top-end speed, but Leipold and offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki downplayed that possibility because of the lack of depth at quarterback.

Behind Daniels and Bean, Kansas only has two quarterbacks on scholarship in redshirt freshman Ben Easters and freshman Ethan Vasko.

Daniels said the focus throughout the spring and into summer workouts has been to make sure each of the quarterbacks is on the same page in order to inject a measure of continuity into the offense.

“At the end of the day, we know that football is a next-man-up mentality,” Daniels said. “I could get hurt. Bean could get hurt. You saw what happened last year. You have to put somebody else in, so you have to make sure the people that are around you are ready to go in no matter what the situation is.”

Bean also had scholarship offers from Colorado State, SMU, Louisiana Tech and Liberty while at Lake Ridge High School in Mansfield, Texas, and played alongside three other Big 12 standouts in Baylor linebacker Bryson Jackson, Kansas State wide receiver Malik Knowles and Texas Tech right tackle Caleb Rogers.

“Great person, great player to be around,” Jackson said last week. “He has a great work ethic and that’s one thing I know about him. I’ve been friends with him for a while. He brings a certain focus to the game, and I’m very proud of what he’s doing right now.”

So, too, is Leipold.

“A year ago, if I was sitting here in front of you, I wouldn’t have known (who would start) because I hadn’t seen anyone really throw a pass,” he said. “To know where we are at the quarterback position in 2022 in July versus last year, it’s a night-and-day difference, and I know we’ll be able to take advantage of that.”


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