The date is September 29th, 2018. It’s a date that, after this season, every Mizzou fan might remember.
That was the day Brady Cook officially committed to Missouri.
The Tigers were the first power five offer for the former Chaminade Prep star. He still had another 14 months before he was eligible to sign. Didn’t matter. This was the only offer he needed, because it was the only school he ever dreamed of attending.
But dreams change. Goals are altered. Situations are fluid. Especially at Missouri.
Think about how much has changed in your life since September 2018. We’ve gone through (and are still going through) a global pandemic. Maybe you’ve changed jobs, got married or had kids. Do you still hang out with the same friends? How much have your goals changed in that four-year stretch?
Now think about how much has changed at Mizzou since Cook originally committed to play for the Tigers. At the time, Missouri head coach Barry Odom was 3-1 with the only loss coming in a relatively close game against a top five opponent in Georgia. Drew Lock was putting up video game numbers. Odom looked like he was turning things around. This was the right situation for Cook.
You know what happens next. Odom is fired after the 2019 season. Eli Drinkwitz is hired a week before Cook is scheduled to sign. Never a second thought. It was always Mizzou for Cook.
In high school, asked Brady Cook if he was still committed to MU right after Odom was fired.— Max Baker (@maxbaker_15) August 10, 2022
“Right now, my thoughts moving forward are that I want to play football for Mizzou… I’m confident this class will stick together and everything will work out. Can’t wait to be a tiger.”
Cook’s first season is interrupted by Covid. Spring ball was shortened by a few practices. Fall camp was extended and the season was a 10-game SEC slate as opposed to the usual 12-game format. Cook threw all of seven passes that season, spending most of the season backing up Connor Bazelak and Shawn Robinson.
He found himself stuck behind Bazelak once again last season. Even as Bazelak had extended struggles, Cook couldn’t seem to get a look. His first real opportunity came with Bazelak sidelined due to injury against Georgia, who had one of the best defenses of the modern era. Bazelak returned the following week, and it was back to the bench for Cook.
Then, suddenly, a light appeared at the end of the tunnel. Bazelak announced his intent to transfer, and Cook’s patience paid off with a start in a bowl game. In the Armed Forces Bowl against Army, he played well, and the message seemed to be clear: Cook is the quarterback of the future... Maybe?
Cook will be the fifth different Week 1 starting QB for Mizzou in the last five years:— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) August 10, 2022
2022: Brady Cook
2021: Connor Bazelak
2020: Shawn Robinson
2019: Kelly Bryant
2016-18: Drew Lock
That didn’t last long. Drinkwitz spent the offseason courting every quarterback possible who he deemed an upgrade over his current options. After striking out on the top options, the Tigers landed Jack Abraham through the transfer portal.
This is where the story typically ends. Most quarterbacks in Cook’s situation see the writing on the wall and bolt for a better opportunity where they are guaranteed a starting opportunity. Cook was rated as a top 20 rated pro-style quarterback in the country by Rivals coming out of high school. This isn’t some plucky underdog story. He has real game. He would have had options.
But Cook never wavered in his commitment to Missouri. He embraced competition. He was prepared to earn his job.
Goal achieved. Dream earned. Fans gained.
Brady Cook is the type of quarterback that doesn’t come around often in college football these days. He’s an in-state recruit who never considered other options and jumped on the home-state offer at the first opportunity. He didn’t care about his coach courting other quarterbacks so long as there was an open competition. He wants to play for the home state school.
None of that matters if he doesn’t play well. But it absolutely matters if he does.
Imagine, for a moment, if Drinkwitz ends up getting this right. Walk down this hypothetical scenario with me for a moment. What if Cook is good? What if he’s the quarterback that leads Missouri back to respectability after finishing at or below .500 in conference play in each of the past seven seasons? The only St. Louis product to start at quarterback for Missouri in he last, what, 20 years, is Blaine Gabbert?
Eli Drinkwitz on naming Missouri native Brady Cook starting QB:— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) August 11, 2022
“It matters to him to be the starting quarterback at the University of Missouri.
“I know I can lay my head on the pillow knowing he’s going to give us, and all these fans in this state, everything he’s got.” pic.twitter.com/zWsgJ7zFXb
That stuff matters.
Brady Cook is the kind of story I can believe in. It’s impossible to predict how he’ll perform when the opponents get tougher and the lights get brighter. The one thing I can predict is that Missouri fans can and should embrace Cook. He was named the starting quarterback for a reason.
Because he earned it.