Despite obstacles, Berkstresser refuses to give up

Maty Mauk: “Everybody has a role, and Corbin has a huge one.”
Missouri Tigers quarterback Corbin Berkstresser (13) delivers a pass during his first ever start against Arizona State at Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo. Maneater File Photo

Corbin Berkstresser is no quitter.

The fifth-year senior Missouri football player has seen his fair share of struggles during his collegiate career. Starting four games in 2012 after then-starter James Franklin’s shoulder injury troubles, Berkstresser, playing with an inexperienced offensive line, went 2-2 in the Tigers’ first losing record of the past 10 years.

In 2013, Berkstresser, fighting for his quarterback position, suffered a meniscus tear in his knee during practice, putting him in an even worse spot.

Berkstresser said he questioned whether or not he should return for his fifth year, but ultimately, the decision was simple.

"To me, I got five years here, and if I would've walked away, and not continued my studying, my degree, my grad school, to me, that's like quitting,” he said. “I know a lot of people don't see it that way, but I see it as quitting, and I don't quit. So I'm sticking it out here and finishing the way I started."

Younger quarterbacks came through MU, and the Lee’s Summit native had to take a backseat as he watched them pass him on the depth chart one-by-one.

But Berkstresser didn’t let that hinder him. He was there to help out his team, forming a mentorship role to Drew Lock, Eddie Printz, Marvin Zanders and even Maty Mauk, the field generals above him.

“I'm just someone that they can come up and talk to,” Berkstresser said. “Whether it's about schemes, a certain team, having trouble with a certain throw, whatever it may be. Even off the field, if they have questions about school, how you should study, how you should schedule your day to make good time, I'm that guy they can come to who's seen experiences both on and off the field of hardships and successes."

Throughout his years at Mizzou, the possibility of a position change has often come up for Berkstresser, trying him out on special teams in a few instances.

Quarterbacks coach Andy Hill recalled a play against Georgia in 2013.

“He got launched,” Hill joked. “We were wearing white jerseys. He had a grass stain for about five yards on the ground. But he's tough, and he's not afraid to hit anybody."

This year will be different. Not listed on the depth chart as a quarterback, Berkstresser will likely only see some time on the extra point, punt block and punt return protection special teams.

Lining up for multiple special teams drills during preseason practices, Berkstresser even recorded a punt block on freshman Corey Fatony. His favorite part of the newfound position, though, seems to be the contact.

After asked what the hardest part of playing on special teams and getting hit is, Berkstresser didn’t hesitate on an answer.

“Nothing,” he said with a smile. “I just get excited. It’s fun.”

When it comes down to it, though, Berkstresser’s most important position might not be his contribution to special teams, but as a consultant to his fellow Tigers.

"He's a guy that knows his role on the team,” Mauk said. “Everybody has a role, and Corbin has a huge one. Being here for so long, knowing what's going on and being able to be a mentor for the younger guys, and even myself at times — it's something that we need. It's going to help us take our game to the next level, when you have an extra pair of eyes back there who knows what's going on."

Berkstresser considers himself unselfish. He’s okay with being the “fifth-string quarterback, 10th-string quarterback, fourth punter, whatever it is” — he’s always been there to help out the team.

Hill said he’ll do anything his coaches ask of him, and that he’s the one to come up and ask what he can do to help.

There’s yet another special job for Berkstresser, assigned by Hill. His daughter, a freshman at MU with “105 big brothers,” according to her dad, recently moved into the residence halls on campus.

“(Berkstresser’s) on 24-hour watch in Responsibility Hall,” Hill joked. “He's the lead guy. You might think he's a piece of carpet, but you'll see a red dot on kids' foreheads walking down the hall. He's ready."

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