Missouri fans can breathe easy — their quarterback is coming back.
Junior Drew Lock has decided to hold off on entering the NFL Draft for another year and will return to Missouri for a senior season in 2018, the school announced Tuesday evening.
“I’m very excited to be coming back for my senior year, and I’m really optimistic about what we can do as a team next season,” Lock said in a statement. “There were a lot of factors that went into this decision, but the main ones include: a feeling of responsibility and loyalty to my coaches and teammates at Mizzou — we have goals to achieve together; having the chance to play for a new coach in (new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks) Coach (Derek) Dooley, and his system that will continue to add to my development; and of course, getting my degree. I feel like all of these factors combine to give me the best chance to succeed at the next level. Thank you to Coach (Barry) Odom and everyone on the Mizzou staff for being patient and very helpful to my family and me during this process. I’m looking forward to exciting things to come!”
In December, the NFL’s College Advisory Committee recommended Lock return to college for another year before entering the draft. At the time, Lock said he was still considering entering based on things he had been told otherwise.
Lock’s decision to return comes in the wake of a historic junior season in which he showcased his NFL-caliber arm by throwing for a shade under 4,000 yards, earning him first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors. No other passer in the nation tossed more touchdowns than the Lee’s Summit product did in 2017. Lock’s 44 touchdown throws led all quarterbacks across college football and topped both the previous program record of 39 set by Chase Daniel in 2008 and the conference-high Andre Woodson set for Kentucky when he threw 40 for Kentucky in 2007.
“I’m proud of Drew and his family for how they approached this decision and how they handled themselves during the process,” Odom said in the release “We were very thorough in gathering all the information possible to assist. Drew obviously has a great skill set that will continue to be developed at Mizzou. His leadership skills and being a great teammate are two qualities that I admire. I look forward to building our team this spring and am excited that Drew will be part of that. I know he will have an unbelievable approach in his preparation and practice habits to lead our program. He’s going to graduate from Mizzou and have a great senior season. I’m excited for Drew and our team moving forward,”
Lock’s dominance under center helped fuel a furious turnaround to the Tigers’ season that saw a six-game winning streak send Missouri to its first bowl game since 2014. Over the six-game stretch, the junior gunslinger threw 26 touchdowns to just five interceptions while averaging 328 yards per game.
In the days leading up to the Texas Bowl in late December, Lock acknowledged that the coach chosen by Odom to replace Josh Heupel as the Tigers’ offensive coordinator would play a factor in his decision.
“I want to see what I could squeeze out of him, what could I learn from him rather than jumping ahead and missing the chance to learn from a great mind that may have been in the NFL or coached really good NFL quarterbacks,” Lock said at the time.
It would appear that Lock was satisfied with Odom’s decision to hire Dooley. The former Tennessee head coach spent the last five years coaching receivers for the Dallas Cowboys.
With Lock’s decision to remain in Columbia, Missouri now returns nine of 11 starters for an offense that finished eighth in total offense this past season.