MEMPHIS, Tenn. - As Oklahoma State players prepare for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the defense will likely have their hands full with Missouri quarterback Drew Lock.
Lock, a senior, is projected to be a first round pick in the NFL Draft. Some mock drafts even have him being the first quarterback selected in the NFL Draft.
“He’s a quiet and upfront type of guy. He always leads by example. He never says too much, but when he says something, he expects it to be how he says it. You know what type of player he is and I’ve been around him for four years. I’ve seen his growth from his freshman year to his senior year. It’s amazing because since we’ve came in, you knew he was going to be the guy. You knew he was going to be good, but then after the years and coaching tips that have helped him out, you see where he is now and you can’t help but look at him and be happy for him and want the best for him. He’s a good guy," said Johnathan Johnson, Missouri wide receiver.
While many NFL prospects are choosing to sit out of bowl games and not risk injury before the NFL Draft, Lock has decided to play in Monday's AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
“It just lets you know what type of competitor he is. Whenever he feels like he can play, he’s going to always play. I’ve never seen him, even at practice, take a rep off. He’s always going out. If the ones are going, he’s going, that’s just the type of guy he is," Johnson added.
Missouri head coach Barry Odom says Lock is simply too invested in the program to sit out when his team needs him.
“It never was even a conversation. The type of person that Drew is and how much he’s invested in our university, athletic department and football program, and the closeness he has with his teammates. Someone asked him early on in bowl preparation if he was going to play or not. I wish I could’ve captured the picture of the way he looked, the body language he gave off during that moment. This game means a heck of a lot to Drew and he wants to play really well for his team," Odom said.
So far this season, Lock has thrown for 3,125 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Throughout his career, Lock has thrown for 11,820 yards and 96 touchdowns.
"I would say it’s been a blast. I’d say I’ve learned quite a bit about myself and the game of football. The beginning I think it just really looked bright right at the beginning, then things kind of took a turn for the worst. I think this group of seniors and the guys that are about a year younger than us who went through that tough time, being able to come out of it and being able to stay true to the university, the state - that’s been the coolest part about my experience here, being able to battle back from some rough times. People looked very negatively on our university, the place that we love an the place that we played every Saturday for. To be able to stick through that and end up my last year trying to get to an ninth win, a lot of people would say we wouldn’t have even been in this position today because of those situations that happened a while back. We’re here, we fought through it and I think it’s a big accomplishment for these guys who are playing their last game," Lock said.
Oklahoma State's defense has struggled at points this season, and OSU Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles says he knows that trying to stop Lock will be a big challenge for his defense.
"It's been an up-and-down year for us as a defense and facing Big 12 offenses has been a two step forward one step back process, but going against a Big 12-type offense from the SEC is a real challenge for us and an opportunity for us to send our seniors out with a great feeling," Knowles said.
“They’re all different. Obviously, with Kyler [Murray’s] ability to play the game the way he plays. Will Greer would be more like this one in that they have the ability to run a little bit, move around and make a play, not going to do it a lot. They want to do it inside the 12-yard line. You have to plan for each one differently, but he’s a really good player and probably going to play this game for another 10-12 years," said OSU head coach Mike Gundy when asked about Drew Lock.
The Oklahoma State defense will take Lock to task on Monday, Dec. 31 in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Kickoff is set for 2:45 p.m.