Picking a starting quarterback for the Kansas football program in 2021 comes down to how much risk coaches are willing to take

photo by: Nick Krug

Kansas quarterback Jason Bean talks with media members during interview on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 at the Indoor Practice Facility.

First-year Kansas football coach Lance Leipold still has until Friday night to reveal the identity of KU’s starting quarterback, but it seems like several people following the race already have made up their minds.

So I figured why not join them?

For me, this battle has come down to two Jayhawks — senior Miles Kendrick and sophomore transfer Jason Bean.

Before I go any further, let me remind you that my opinion is based almost entirely on what I’ve heard and learned from talking to people and not from watching the competition play out in practices, the bulk of which were closed to the media.

All three QBs vying for the starting nod, including sophomore Jalon Daniels, have traits that make them appealing choices. You’ve surely read or heard plenty about those. On Wednesday, offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki said he’d be comfortable with any of them playing.

But it’s two of those strengths that have me down to Kendrick and Bean.

Kendrick’s ability as a game manager could be ideal for the kind of offense KU wants to run in Year 1. Rely heavily on the ground game, ask Kendrick to throw it 12-15 times a game — high percentage throws at that — and allow him to use his maturity and poise to lead the offense and avoid trouble.

Bean’s speed and ability to hurt opponents by taking off and running make him an intriguing option, especially given the fact that KU is expected to feature its ground attack this season.

Highlighting those two is in no way intended to be a knock on Daniels. Remember, he’s still just 18 years old — he won’t turn 19 until Oct. 29 — and, in a sense, he’s still just a freshman.

The experience he gained last year, though important and real, came under such duress and took place in extreme circumstances that extended beyond just football.

Giving him a more natural chance to develop may benefit him a great deal in the future. And because of his age, he still has the potential to be a two- or three-year starter down the road.

Confidence and personality are not issues for Daniels. So let him spend the year competing, working, growing and improving while staying ready to roll in case he’s needed.

It’s entirely possible that he will be, even if he starts the season on the bench.

If you’re asking me to bet on who the coaches will go with, I might lean Kendrick. If you’re asking me who I’d go with, I’d probably lean Bean.

Choosing between the two is kind of like playing the lottery.

If you go big, and you go with Bean, hitting the right numbers could bring life-changing money. But if you’d rather play it safe and you want to go with a $5 scratcher ticket, don’t be surprised if even a win only brings you 50 bucks.

No matter which QB the Kansas coaching staff picks, none of the three probably changes the win/loss record all that much this season. So you really can’t go wrong with any of them.

But Leipold has talked a lot about getting games to the fourth quarter and being more consistently competitive than KU has in the recent past, win or lose.

Kendrick and Bean, in different ways, seem best suited to do that. And, of the two, Bean brings the more exciting skill set and greater potential to the field.

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