It’s official: the band is officially getting back together in 2018.
University of Missouri junior QB Drew Lock (Lee’s Summit, Mo.) will return to Mizzou for his senior season in 2018, as he announced today. Lock had considered early entry into the 2018 NFL Draft, but after consulting with family and coaches, he has chosen to don the black and gold uniform for his final year.
”I’m very excited to be coming back for my senior year, and I’m really optimistic about what we can do as a team next season,” Lock said. “There were a lot of factors that went into this decision, but the main ones include: a feeling of responsibility and loyalty to my coaches and teammates at Mizzou – we have goals to achieve together; having the chance to play for a new coach in Coach Dooley, and his system that will continue to add to my development; and of course, getting my degree. I feel like all of these factors combine to give me the best chance to succeed at the next level. Thank you to Coach Odom and everyone on the Mizzou staff for being patient and very helpful to my family and me during this process. I’m looking forward to exciting things to come!”
Drew Lock threw for 3,964 yards and a nation’s-best (and SEC-record) 44 touchdowns in 2017. He was one of the best quarterbacks in the country over the second half of the season, producing a passer rating above 175 five times in a seven-game span, and Missouri averaged 51.3 points per game during a six-game winning streak that turned a 1-5 start into a 7-5 regular season.
Combined with his raw throwing ability, Lock’s on-field hot streak built buzz that he might enter his name into the 2018 NFL Draft. When the NFL’s advisory committee recommended he return, he continued to gather information and elected to wait until Barry Odom officially made his hire to replace departing offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.
Mizzou announced Derek Dooley’s hire on Friday. Four days later, Lock was ready to announce his decision: he’s coming back.
With Lock back, Missouri will return nine offensive starters in 2018, 10 if you include running back Damarea Crockett, who was originally the starting running back until a season-ending injury. Those at Lock’s disposal will include
- Crockett, who has rushed for 1,543 yards (6.6 per carry) in 18 games as a Tiger.
- Larry Rountree III, who rushed for 703 yards (5.6) in 13 games as a backup and went for 155 yards in a win over Tennessee in November.
- Wideout Emanuel Hall, whose emergence correlated closely with Mizzou’s second-half breakout. He averaged 24.8 yards per catch for the season but was slowed by nagging injuries over the final two games.
- Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who led the nation in receiving touchdowns by a freshman with 11, nine of which came in the last six games of the regular season.
- Slot receivers Johnathan Johnson and Richaud Floyd, who combined for 55 catches, 894 yards, and eight touchdowns. Johnson averaged 17.7 yards per catch and caught a beautiful, long pass for a score to start the second half of the Texas Bowl.
- Tight end Kendall Blanton, who has 22 catches for 299 yards and four touchdowns over two seasons.
- All five offensive line starters and three second-stringers. Six of these players have starting experience, and the line as a whole was one of the nation’s most improved in 2017.
That’s a lot. And now this exciting, experienced corps of athletes knows it will have its captain back for another season.
We’ll see what changes Dooley elects to bring to the table, but he certainly has a bounty of weapons to work with.