LEE'S SUMMIT. Mo. -- People living in one metro community celebrate a local athlete who's done well.
TV screens around Lee's Summit were tuned to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl all Monday afternoon. Missouri (8-5) lost that postseason game, played in Memphis, Tennessee, to Oklahoma State 38-33. Lee's Summit High School graduate Drew Lock played his last college game against the Cowboys, throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns.
There`s a sense of family and pigskin pride at many homes in Lee`s Summit. Lock knows these neighborhoods well, and they celebrate him in return. Just ask Eric Thomas, who coached Lock as a Lee`s Summit Tiger back in 2014 when he won the Simone Award as Kansas City`s best prep player. Thomas took in the Liberty Bowl via television screen in his basement, watching his old quarterback finish a stellar college career.
"I remember going to watch him as an eighth grader at Lee's Summit West, and going, 'This is going to be pretty good and special,' Thomas told FOX 4 News.
The tall, tough gunslinger grew into Kansas City's best player in 2014 with 28 touchdown passes as a senior, and later, Lock was arguably the top talent in the Southeastern Conference, setting a single-season record for TD passes in 2017, when, as a Mizzou Tiger, he wrote down 44 scoring strikes.
"It's also the next step. Where's he going to go from here? Seeing that journey unfold is almost surreal. It's almost unbelievable that you see his name in these mock drafts," Thomas said.
Numerous online mock drafts have Lock being chosen in the first round of April's draft, which would net him millions as an NFL rookie. Thomas pointed out that Lock has already wrapped up his Bachelor's degree, having attended summer classes to complete his undergraduate degree early. Mizzou's official website lists Lock as majoring in parks, recreation and tourism.
Dalton Hill, a varsity quarterback at Missouri State, was Lock's teammate for two years at Lee's Summit High. Hill took over as Lee's Summit QB after Lock left for Farot Field in Columbia.
"I love to see Drew having all the success he's had," Hill said on Monday. "When he's got an arm like he does, it allows him to make riskier reads. He can through to less open windows just because he has the arm he does. I think he's blessed with a special gift like he does."
Thomas says the element that might set Lock apart is his personality. The coach said Lock's winning attitude tends to light up a room, one element that will impress pro scouts, just as it has for people around his old stomping grounds.