SPRING TOUR DATES
May 11: North Gwinnett (GA)
May 11: North Gwinnett (GA)
May 19: Francis Howell (MO)
May 20:St. John Vianney (MO)
LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo.-- Eric Thomas has been the head football coach at Lee's Summit High School for four seasons. After his fifth season, Thomas will see his second starting quarterback head to Columbia as a quarterback for the University of Missouri.
That first quarterback to make the Lee's Summit-to-Columbia connection was Corbin Berkstresser, whose commitment to the Tigers (made in June 2009) predates Thomas' first season at the high school (2010). The second quarterback, who made a verbal pledge to Missouri in early April, is four-star Drew Lock.
When Lock arrives in Columbia in June 2015, Berkstresser will have one year of eligibility remaining. And should their time at Missouri overlap the way it's scheduled, Lock and Berkstresser will be the second pair of quarterbacks from the same high school to overlap under Gary Pinkel.
(The first duo? The Gabbert brothers, Blaine and Tyler.)
But beyond the surface details that Berkstresser and Lock have in common -- well, the similarities end there.
"None," Thomas said with a laugh. "They're two totally different people. Corbin is tough, gritty. He's going to run the ball if he needs to. He's just a different cat. We ended up playing him at outside linebacker some his senior year.
"Drew, we would probably never put him on the defensive side of the ball. He's just a different guy. He's more of a finesse guy. He's a basketball player playing football sometimes. When Corbin walks into the room, you wonder, 'What team does he play outside linebacker for?'. With Drew, he's clearly a quarterback or a basketball player."
Those words aren't meant as a slight against the lanky Lock, however. Not with the numbers he put up last year, and the college offers that came in before he committed to the in-state school.
"I liken last year's year for Drew to Corbin's senior year," Thomas said.
In that year -- 2010 -- Thomas had just installed his spread-offense at Lee's Summit, and Berkstresser was tasked with switching from a more pro-style offense to a wide-open attack. Berkstresser flourished, throwing for 36 touchdowns with six interceptions. He completed 61-percent of his passes for 3,383 yards, and he ran for 692 yards and 12 more touchdowns, leading the Tigers into the playoffs.
Last year, Lock threw for 3,062 yards, 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions, completing 60-percent of his passes. Back in 2010, Thomas said Berkstresser took "seven or eight games" to develop into a passer, rather than a thrower. He still put him video-game numbers. If Lock's junior year showed that same development as Berkstresser's senior year, then 2014 could be something special for Thomas' next Missouri-bound quarterback.
"Now the question is, 'What can that next step be?'," Thomas said. "Can he just dominate and take control? Because, close to the end of the year, Drew got it. He started seeing things. Now we can take that to the next level.
"It's progressions, making sure he knows where the ball is going at all times. He needs to take ownership of the offense. Can Drew carry the load? He can."
The offense is all Lock's now, especially after losing top running back Casey Slaughter to college. Thomas likens Slaughter to former Lee's Summit running back King Frazier -- phsyical, between-the-tackles runners. Because of that absence, Thomas said his staff will change some things about the offense, but Lock's emergence as an improving all-around athlete will still help their run game.
In addition to Lock, the Tigers' offense has Ryan Dodd, who will move from right tackle to left this season. Dodd is getting interest from regional schools, and at 6-foot-4, 297-pounds, he likely projects to the interior line in college. Receiver Hunter Allee (6-3, 195), who led the team in receiving yards in 2013, is back and is getting interest from Wyoming. On defense, the leader is Austin Pace at outside linebacker. Thomas said he's getting interest from FCS schools as some FBS schools are concerned about his height.
"When people see him run, though," Thomas said. "He's 6-foot, that's what people worry about. But he's 224-pounds and can run a 4.5. I wouldn't put it past him to get some FBS looks."
The most intriguing recruit on Lee's Summit, however, is safety/receiver Delshon Spratt (6-2, 191, 4.58-second 40). Thomas intends to use Spratt more on offense, in addition to his role as a starting safety. Spratt is receiving interest from Northern Illinois, South Dakota State and Kansas State.
But this team will run through Lock at quarterback as it looks to make a deeper run into the playoffs. In his last year in high school, Lock is ready to improve on a remarkable junior year.
"That's what we're looking at," Thomas said. "Him now becoming the leader of the team. Everything's running through him."