They starred at high schools less than half an hour away, but the first quarterback duel between David Ash and Michael Cummings will take place more than 650 miles north of Killeen in Lawrence, Kan.
Kansas coach Charlie Weis announced Tuesday former Killeen quarterback Cummings will start for the second consecutive week when the Jayhawks host former Belton standout Ash and the No. 24 Texas Longhorns.
“We’re going to start Michael and we’ll see how it goes,” Weis said during his weekly press conference. “They (Cummings and Dayne Crist) both have been told that and they both know Michael’s starting and we’ll see where it goes. But I think that, at this point, when you’re 1-6 and things haven’t gone real well, I think you owe it to your team to see what you have.”
Cummings earned his first career start for Kansas (1-6, 0-4 Big 12) in the Jayhawks’ 52-7 loss to No. 8 Oklahoma on Saturday.
Sharing the signal-calling duties with Crist, Cummings was 10-of-21 for 111 yards and two interceptions. He also completed a career-high 51-yard pass to James Sims,.
Cummings’ composure in the loss, and against the Big 12’s second-ranked defense, was what really stood out for Weis.
“The game wasn’t too big for him down in Oklahoma. Now, of course, I did not throw the entire playbook at him and everyone says, ‘why don’t you do more?’ I don’t want to get the kid killed, either,” Weis said. “Anytime you start with an inexperienced quarterback, it is probably a good thing to protect him some. But we’ll do a little bit more with him this week than we did last week, obviously.”
Cummings will start opposite Ash, who’s already entrenched as the Longhorns’ starter. The sophomore completed 19 of 31 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown in Texas’ 56-50 win over Baylor on Saturday. He’s thrown for 960 yards and five touchdowns with three
interceptions this season for the Horns (5-2, 2-2), who snapped a two-game losing streak with the win over the Bears.
Despite the two quarterbacks literally shining at their respective high schools just miles away from each other, the two three-year starters never shared the field in high school except during summer 7-on-7 league games.
Ash led the Tigers to back-to-back playoff appearances as a junior and senior and helped them win a district championship in 2009. Cummings guided the Kangaroos to three straight playoff appearances, including a Division I-4A state quarterfinal appearance in 2008 as a sophomore.
Some of the magic he had at Killeen was apparent when Cummings replaced Crist in the Jayhawks’ loss to Oklahoma State two weeks ago.
The redshirt freshman guided Kansas on two touchdown drives and had a chance to win the game, but misfired on a fourth-down pass attempt during the go-ahead drive.
The spark Cummings brought when he replaced Crist against the Cowboys led to him earning his first career start last week.
“I’m the head coach of Kansas and my job is to make sure that I put our football team in an upward spiral, not a downward spiral,” Weis said of benching Crist in favor of Cummings, “and if the status quo doesn’t show any improvement, then you have to find some way to make improvements, and this is one of the ways.”