Thrust into the spotlight, Lock prepares for No. 11 Florida

Russell Hansbrough: “(Lock’s) the most relaxed kid I’ve ever seen. He’s just out there having fun with the team, making sure he’s getting the play calls and things like that. He’s a born leader.”
Missouri Tigers freshman quarterback Drew Lock (3) winds up to throw a pass Oct. 3, 2015, at Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo. Lock led the team to victory against the South Carolina Gamecocks during his first start as the Tiger’s quarterback.

Not much had changed.

Drew Lock still went to class and practice, grabbed lunch at Chipotle and hung out with friends, all while lugging around a black backpack with a white “Lee’s Summit Tigers” imprinted on it and sporting his zipped-up jacket, signature haircut and innocent smile.

Except everything had changed.

Lock isn’t just an average MU student anymore. He’s the starting quarterback for his school.

Lock led the Tigers to a 24-10 win against South Carolina last week, completing 21 passes out of 28 and throwing two touchdowns. After coach Gary Pinkel’s Monday announcement that junior quarterback Maty Mauk was suspended indefinitely, Lock has been left in charge of the Missouri offense at least through this weekend’s meeting with No. 11 Florida.

“It’s kind of like a fantasy team,” Lock said. "You see 'probable' on the guy or he's 'week by week.’ That's kind of how I'm taking my life right now."

Last week, as Lock sat in David Vaught’s Intro to Leisure Studies course, the professor began speaking about people with certain special talents.

“I would be remiss,” Vaught told his class, “if I didn’t say something about Drew Lock having an opportunity to go out and become a quarterback for a (Southeastern Conference), major football program as a freshman.”

The 200-person class erupted in applause.

“I think it was just the simple fact that he’s one of them,” Vaught said in an interview. “He’s a freshman and he’s certainly getting an opportunity to be in a leadership role. But I think they were really just applauding one of their classmates.”

Since he was given the starting position, Lock’s interactions on campus have been completely altered.

As he left Memorial Stadium with his parents after beating the Gamecocks last Saturday, he was greeted by a flock of children asking for autographs.

He acknowledged the “Good game, Drew” shoutouts as he walked across the parking lot to go celebrate.

Things were different than they had been just one game ago.

“It was definitely crazy that night and then today was kind of cool, just walking around,” Lock said during Monday’s media availability. “They don’t necessarily say anything to you, but you kind of see eyeballs. You kind of see them lurking — people stop and do a double take.

“It’s pretty cool, don’t get me wrong. But I guess at the same time, I’m just a normal student that just likes to play a sport that I’ve played since I was a little kid.”

Lock is undoubtedly a different quarterback than Mauk. The latter player is known for his scrambles and his ability to run whenever.

The freshman prefers to throw.

“Run when needed,” Lock said is the motto. “If they call a play when I need to run, I’ll run. But if not, I’m throwing it.”

Getting essentially thrown into one of the biggest leadership roles a student can have on MU’s campus as a freshman is enough for many to panic, but Lock’s support from his team has helped ease the transition.

With the Tigers’ captains — center Evan Boehm, cornerback Kenya Dennis, safety Ian Simon and running back Russell Hansbrough — helping lead the team, Lock has had plenty of help.

“(Lock’s) the most relaxed kid I’ve ever seen,” Hansbrough said. “He’s just out there having fun with the team, making sure he’s getting the play calls and things like that. He’s a born leader.”

The typically outgoing Lock will be focusing all his energy on the Gators this week.

He’ll make sure to get his rest, watch tape and stay relaxed.

He’ll still be walking around with his high school backpack, and he’s sure to make the trip to Chipotle at least once, but things sure have changed for him.

“Being a quarterback all my life, it’s kind of all on you,” Lock said. “You fail, they’re all going to let you know. But if you succeed, they’re all going to raise you up to the heavens. That’s just what kind of comes with the position. That’s what I like about it.”

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