Missouri freshman class works as a family
Drew Lock: “We have some true studs in our class right now, and I can't wait to see us all eventually get on the field at the same time and see what happens here."
Sep. 09, 2015
As soon as Drew Lock scored his first touchdown with a 78-yard pass to Tyler Hunt, he was in celebration mode.
The freshman quarterback ran toward the sideline, greeted center Evan Boehm and starter Maty Mauk with powerful high-fives and then shared a moment with defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr.
Beckner and Lock are two of the eight true freshmen that saw playing time in Missouri’s 34-3 season-opening win against Southeast Missouri State on Saturday.
Lock finished his three-drive debut with 138 passing yards and one touchdown, while Beckner managed to tally his first four tackles as a Tiger.
After his first performance, Beckner, who was listed as second-string last week, was moved up on the depth chart to co-starter, alongside junior Josh Augusta.
“Terry did a lot of good things,” coach Gary Pinkel said during Monday’s media session. “He's really coming along, really maturing and it's really nice to see. He's a really humble guy and those guys kind of seem to mature quicker. They don't get caught up in themselves, so we're really excited about his progress."
With Beckner and Lock considered five-star and a four-star recruits coming out of high school, respectively, they are being looked to be impact players right away for the young Tigers.
“We knew that if we got a (recruiting) class rolling here, we could do something special here,” Lock said following the SEMO win. “I feel like maybe you saw a little hint of it tonight. I’m not saying the whole world’s coming down because we played semi-well, but we have some playmakers in our class.”
On paper, you wouldn’t expect Lock and Beckner to be good friends. One’s from Lee’s Summit, the other from East St. Louis. One loves to hold a conversation, the other timid and reserved.
They play almost direct opposite positions on the field. But off the field, they share a special bond — and Lock insists his pal isn’t as shy as he seems.
"He doesn't have Twitter, he doesn't have Instagram, so he's kind of a quiet guy in a sense,” Lock said. “But once you truly get to know him, he's really outgoing, and he's a good guy. He's one of my better friends here now, and it's really cool. You don't really know him — you just think of him as 'the' Terry Beckner. Now, when you see him and talk to him in person, he's pretty normal, believe it or not."
Another immediate-impact freshman for the Tigers is punter Corey Fatony, who averaged 45.8 yards in six punts, in a starting position Saturday. Kicking off, Fatony averaged 64.3 yards per kick.
Fatony is the first punter to arrive at Mizzou already on scholarship since 2007, when junior college transfer Jake Harry was signed.
"Years ago, when I was at Washington, we had a bunch of great kickers and punter, and we never put a guy on scholarship ever,” Pinkel said. “You had to come in and earn it. The biggest difference now is the development of these kickers and punters.
“Some of the punts he had were outstanding, and it’s encouraging that he’s a freshman. I just like his competitiveness — the confidence he has. It’s not cocky in any way, just the determination is pretty good. (I’m) very pleased with that.”
The freshmen who will see playing time this year are not all that’s to be seen from the 2015 recruiting class, according to Lock.
“The guys that aren't on the field right now just have really good guys ahead of them,” Lock said. “We have some true studs in our class right now, and I can't wait to see us all eventually get on the field at the same time and see what happens here."
In the meantime, the eight true freshmen on the depth chart will be working hard to grow closer.
“Taking coaching, the coaching staff does a really good job of bringing us together,” Fatony said. "We really just kind of want to become a family.”