With a growing chip on his shoulder, Drew Lock is back at Mizzou to finish what he started
Missouri's star QB skipped the NFL Draft and now has a season to prove that was the right decision
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Drew Lock can't wait to tell you how he blew a kiss to an entire student section.
For starters, it was not with affection. It wasn't even in college. Missouri's senior quarterback suggests one of the best ways to define him is a cold winter day four years ago against Lee's Summit North.
The Broncos were rivals enough with Lock's Lee's Summit High. But on that Saturday morning -- the game had been postponed from a Friday night snowstorm -- Lock (as a shooting guard) had just stuck a three in front of North's student section.
The culture of basketball and the cockiness of Drew allowed him to express himself on the court differently than he does on a football field.
After hitting that three, Lock couldn't resist.
"[The schools are] notorious for not liking each other," he said. "I just turned around, got a couple of middle fingers thrown at me. So I just blew them a little kiss back to the student section.
"I got more fingers after that."
Lock is half describing the rawness of a petulant high school BMOC and half offering a glimpse of the man he is now.
"As he likes to say, 'I'm the Big Dog,'" explains roommate Jack Lowary, a fellow Missouri quarterback.
And so the raging hubris and hormones of teenage years cannot just be tossed off. Part of the anecdote above is a basis of Drew Lock's being.
"On the court, I just like getting in little verbal altercations with guys," he said. "I knew I was getting under their skin. I had a swag about me."
He would think to himself … What are you going to say to me that's going to get under my skin? Are you going to tell me you're better at basketball than me? I know you're not. Are you going to tell me you're better at football than me?
Four years later, Lock is standing at a precipice. Lindy's Sports named him the No. 1 quarterback available in the 2019 NFL Draft. The growing consensus is that Lock will at least be among the top two selected.
His 44 touchdown passes last season were an SEC record and the most thrown by a Power Five quarterback since Sam Bradford in 2008. However, considering Lock is playing for a Mizzou program that is five games below .500 since he arrived, there is not quite the accompanying buzz.
There are also none the hair-on-fire curiosities of Baker Mayfield (No. 1 overall in 2018) and none of the controversy of Jameis Winston (No. 1 overall in 2015).
Drew Lock is Midwestern wholesome, a Mizzou legacy. (His dad Andy played for the Tigers in the late 1980s.) There are issues with his completion percentage (a Josh Allen-like 54.5 percent).
But what does that mean in early September with an entire senior season to go? The games still have to be played. A life has to be lived. Lock was reminded that, if nothing else happens, this senior year might be the best of his life.
"I'd say I'm pretty self-aware of what this senior season could be," Lock said.
CBS Sports will be along for the ride, chronicling Lock's senior year. In a series across our digital platforms, we will follow him through the 2019 NFL Draft.
We will try to climb inside not only the person but his game, his family and his experience.
Since arriving in 2015, Lock's coach (Gary Pinkel) was diagnosed with cancer and members of the team threatened a boycott over racial inequality. Former Tennessee coach Derek Dooley this season will be his third offensive coordinator.
Lock has suffered a 1-5 start, been the spark behind a six-game winning streak and enjoyed a single winning season in his career (all in 2017). Also, since his freshman year, he has been totally off social media.
"It ate me up," he said. "If you're doing well, they're going to ride you. If you're doing bad, they're going to ride you. … The only people that truly know are the people in this meeting room, the people in the position rooms."
If it all comes together as senior, will Lock be lobbing middle fingers at his critics along with a ton of touchdown passes?
"On the basketball court, I was super comfortable where I could talk like that," Lock said. "Now I'm becoming even more on the football field to where hopefully I don't do anything stupid.
"You could see some fun things happen."
Dealing with dueling emotions, Lock chose not to watch this year's NFL Draft.
In January, he decided to stay in school for all the right reasons. Lock's draft evaluation was to play one more year of college football. Lock didn't necessarily agree. As the draft drew near, he couldn't ignore an instinct that he should have been there getting called on stage in Arlington, Texas.
"I didn't want to watch it because that finally could have been me," Lock said. "Before, it couldn't have been me. I had no choice but to not be there. [But] it's finally at the point where these are guys I've grown up playing with, and I think I'm just as good."
He added: "I was arrogant. I was a little selfish about it. I was a little upset about it."
Lock allowed himself just a glimpse of the TV that night; he watched along as good friend Sam Darnold was selected No. 3 overall to the Jets.
They all sort of grow up together, the nation's best and brightest quarterbacks. There are camps, all-star games, Elite 11, the Manning Pass Academy. Their shared experienced is one of adulation, bro hugs and text messages.
According to Lock, Baker Mayfield "is kind of a goofball." Auburn's Jarrett Stidham "let me in on a couple of inside things that might be coming up in his life."
"There definitely is a little quarterback mafia that grew up together in the Elite 11," Lock said, "and the Manning Passing Academy as well. The guys who have been through the stuff you've been through. When we get together, we don't necessarily speak of football, ever. It's kind of a football-free zone. When we go back to our university, we're going to get 5,000 questions about football. … You can just be boys with them."
Perhaps Lock would have left if Dooley hadn't been hired. The opening was created when former offensive coordinator Josh Heupel departed rather abruptly to replace Scott Frost at UCF.
That might have been the best thing for Lock, Mizzou football and the NFL. The way it's told, Heupel ran an offense that relied more on option routes for receivers.
Not that it didn't work. Mizzou has been No. 1 in SEC total offense the last two seasons. But as one evaluator said, "The end game is the NFL. You better get your butt under center."
There will be more of that under Dooley, who has never called a play and never served as an offensive coordinator. No matter what happens, Dooley will be a lightning rod figure in the SEC.
He is most famous in the conference for a failed three-year stay as the head coach at Tennessee. But as the 50-year-old Dooley has pointed out, you don't define a 22-year coaching career by one job.
"Coach Dooley definitely has something to prove," Lock said. "It's kind of his personality. He loves taking on as much as he can and diving in and [being] ready to go."
The addition of assigned routes in Dooley's new offense -- featuring a more traditional passing tree -- was key for the Lock camp in Drew ultimately deciding to return to school.
"That just wasn't built into the old offense," the aforementioned evaluator explained, "… because you threw a bubble [screen] for 48 yards or caught a guy on coverage or tricked somebody, you still have to execute.
"From an evaluator's standpoint, [sometimes] they don't see Drew staring down the gun barrel to make that throw."
When Lowary first met Lock, he knew something was up. A JUCO quarterback from California, Lowary came from the same Orange County high school as Matt Leinart, Matt Barkley and 1964 Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte.
"I could tell that, 'Hey, we're competing,'" Lowary said. "We weren't friends yet. I remember thinking, 'Oh, I've got to bring it every day.' It was very clear the first time, 'Hey, we're competing here.'
"Drew -- always a chip on his shoulder."
This chip sits on the top of a 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame with a rocket arm. As a future pro, Lock has been compared to everyone from Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs first-time starter) to Jay Cutler (now-retired 12-year NFL veteran).
But again, the games have to be played. During that six-game winning streak, Lock threw for almost 2,000 yards and 26 touchdowns. Who cares if it was against less-than-stellar competition? Progress is progress.
When things began to turn around, Lock and the Tigers began to have fun with Lil Uzi Vert and Gucci Mane's "Secure The Bag."
Big plays were celebrated with Lock mimicking like he was sort of "securing" a backpack.
"When we started winning, it became a thing," Lock said. "It kind of became a running joke. Then it became serious. We'd come on the sideline, someone would hand me a bag, and I'd put my invisible bag on."
Then it became silly. Texas coach Tom Herman was caught on camera apparently mocking Lock's histrionics during the Texas Bowl.
"I had been getting the poop kicked out of me for my first two years," Lock said. "People are starting to mock things I'm doing. I think the times are changing. What I'm doing … it matters to people."
Justin Hoover had seen that chip before.
"You can probably credit his AAU basketball days with him saying, 'I'm going to guard the best player on the floor every single time,'" said Hoover, one of the nation's top throwing coaches.
He and Lock hooked up when the quarterback was in high school. As Lock was coming up, Hoover was an offensive coordinator across the state line at Kansas prep powerhouse Bishop Miege. Now a head coach at Shawnee Mission East in Kansas, Hoover has tutored the likes of former NFL quarterback Josh Freeman, Ryan Willis (Virginia Tech backup) and Graham Mertz (Wisconsin commit). He is an Elite 11 coach in the offseason.
Lock might turn out to be his most prized pupil. Along with his family, Lock also consulted with Hoover about the draft.
"When I asked him, 'Are you ready to be a pro?' he kind of hesitated," Hoover said. "I said, 'Are you ready to go on the road at Baltimore and plays against that defensive in November?'"
Lock offered a tentative, "Yeah."
"More [fun] than you're having at Missouri? Because you'll never get that back," Hoover continued.
The answer is in the quarterback room this week getting ready for Wyoming to visit on Saturday. (In Missouri's 51-14 win over UT-Martin in Week 1, Lock completed 19-of-25 passes for 289 yards and four touchdowns, earning national player of the week honors.)
The answer has already completed Mizzou's Agent Day where he met some of the most powerful representatives in the NFL.
"After 25 years as an agent, I'm not intimidated by anybody," said Larry Lacewell, a former Mizzou assistant athletic director now based in Portland, Oregon. "Because of the Mizzou connection, it was kind of fun. I'm going to go after him hard without being a problem."
The answer was in a 480-hour internship Lock took this summer to complete his Parks, Recreation and Tourism degree.
Part of his duties had to do with charting whether his teammates showed up for their summer school classes.
"It was interesting," Lock said. "Do I play the good cop, bad cop?"
Turns out he played it down the middle. Lock refused to wear a bright yellow shirt in the classroom that would have identified him as the class monitor.
The answer rides high in Lock's big-ass GMC truck. Turns out the kid in him had to have it. It most resembled Lock's favorite character from "Transformers," Ironhide.
The answer is stuffed in a closet his apartment. Lowary found the perfect accessory to accent that infamous Lock chip.
"I actually bought him a T-shirt this past offseason, a 'Big Dog' T-shirt," Lowary said. "I know it was big in the 90s with a lot of dads. I purposely bought it triple-X. He got a kick out of that.
"He has a chip on his shoulder in anything he does -- video games, pick-up basketball. Coming to football, which is his love, I think that's why he came back. He wanted to finish what he started."
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