April 10, 2014 has been on my mind a lot.
The day, over four years ago, was when a four-star quarterback from Lee’s Summit, Mo., announced his commitment to Missouri. The gangly dual-sport athlete with a mop of brown hair on his head — not Bama bangs, because it’s not short on the sides — sat at a table in his father’s restaurant. It was happy hour, and beyond the media, beyond the friends, family and teammates, other diners were there, watching the proprietor’s son make his college decision.
Drew Lock committed to the Tigers that day. He was the backbone of the 2014 recruiting class, the one the rest of the class would be built around. He picked Missouri over offers from Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska and others; besides a late push from Jim Harbaugh and Michigan, he stuck with that decision.
There was one line of thought from that evening. It made its way into my commitment story of Lock. In a quiet moment talking with Andy Lock, Drew’s father, he broke down to me how his son came to the conclusion that he was ready to commit to the program that meant so much to his family.
For so long father tried to stay out of son’s recruiting process; offering support, obviously, but not trying to lead to the favored destination. But with Drew nearing a decision, Andy posed one question to his son:
“Drew, would you be comfortable with somebody else quarterbacking the University of Missouri for three or four years, however long you get to play?”
Drew’s answer was simple:
Absolutely not. That line has stuck with me through Lock’s career, through the highs and the lows. Through his freshman season, in which opinion of him swung wildly from savior to overrated. Through his sophomore and junior years, through the stretches of video-game numbers and the sojourns through the statistical deserts. Wins and losses. Coaching changes.
The criticism Drew Lock has received at Missouri has been because of what he’s projected to be. It’s because he’s going to be a first-round NFL Draft pick; shouldn’t the team have more wins to reflect that talent?
Here’s my question:
Would Missouri have more wins over the last three years with somebody else quarterbacking the University of Missouri?
Legacies of players are written before careers are even done; then they’re re-written based on what comes after that. We’ve seen that with Brad Smith to Chase Daniel most recently. Lock’s legacy will absolutely change over the next few years, based on who follows him and how much (or little) success Missouri finds.
But here’s the part we all need to focus on this Friday, the final home-game of Lock’s career. This is the part of his legacy that gets ignored when we look at the game-by-game production; the wins and the losses; the what-if game:
Drew Lock went to Missouri because he loved the school and the program almost to the point of jealousy. It wasn’t just about wanting to represent the school; it wasn’t about wanting to win; it wasn’t about wanting to set records.
It was about not wanting to see anyone else do that at Missouri. He could have gone anywhere; he could have found a place surrounded with more talent; with more historical success and more immediate potential.
But he couldn’t bear to see someone else step into the position he played at the school his father and grandfather played for. He came back for his last year; I’m guessing at least part of that was because of the reason he committed to Missouri in the first place.
Instead of focusing on what we expected this team to look like under Drew Lock, let’s realize what we had in Drew Lock. A preternaturally gifted quarterback; a stellar ambassador for the program and school; a True Son.
Missouri will have another quarterback next year. The quarterback may put up bigger numbers; the quarterback may lead a young and talented Missouri team to more wins.
Will that quarterback replace all that Drew Lock brought to this program?