Many college players, knowing they are on the verge of beginning a professional football career, opt to skip their school’s bowl game appearance for fear of injury, a bad performance hurting their draft stock or a variety of other reasons.
Not Missouri’s Drew Lock, who will lead the Tigers one more time in Monday’s Liberty Bowl against Oklahoma State in Memphis.
Kickoff is set for 2:45 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN.
“The way I’ve always operated since I’ve been here I think would have hopefully led people to think that I wouldn’t sit out this game,” Lock said. “I’ve got one more responsibility to this university, to this team and to my friends – some of my best friends – to play in this game.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to look at me differently just because I didn’t play in this game.”
For Lock it will be the conclusion to a storied career that placed him at or near the top of almost all offensive records for quarterbacks in Missouri history and he hopes it will be a proper sendoff to the NFL.
Most of the mock drafts have Lock being selected in the mid to late first round, usually as the second quarterback coming off the board.
Hoping to improve his stock in the draft was one of the reasons Lock decided to return to Columbia for his senior season instead of turning pro after his junior year, when he was coming off an SEC-record 44 touchdown passes.
There were other elements of Lock’s game, however, which professional scouts told him needed to be improved. Even if his overall statistics showed a slight decline this season, Lock’s overall performance did improve his chances of becoming a high draft pick.
The hiring of Derek Dooley as Missouri’s offensive coordinator also proved to be quite beneficial for Lock’s career. Because of Dooley’s experience as an assistant coach at the professional level, he put Lock in charge of more of an NFL-style offense than he had run in his first three seasons.
Lock led the Tigers to an 8-4 record in the regular season, winning four of their final five games. This is Missouri’s second consecutive bowl appearance after they lost to Texas in last year’s Texas Bowl.
Photo by USA Today Sports
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