Lock, 24, grew up in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, as a “pretty passionate’’ Chiefs fan, so he is obviously familiar with the stadium. He says that while he was growing up, he visited it “too many times to count.”
But as familiar as he is with the facility in which he’ll play this weekend, Kansas City football fans are just as familiar with him.
As a junior at Lee’s Summit High School in 2013, Lock led the Tigers to the Missouri 6A quarterfinals. As a senior, Lock was the Kansas City Star’s All-Metro Player of the Year after passing for 2,731 yards and 28 touchdowns.
But other Tigers were waiting for Lock.
In four seasons playing for the University of Missouri — three of them as the starting quarterback — Lock passed for more than 12,000 yards, 99 touchdowns and 39 interceptions. 44 of those touchdowns were in his junior season — which was a record not only for the Tigers but for the SEC.
That was good enough for the Broncos to draft Lock in the second round (42nd overall) last spring. But the Broncos had already traded with the Baltimore Ravens to acquire former Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco — and picked up third-year signal-caller Brandon Allen when the Los Angeles Rams waived him at the beginning of the season.
Lock would have to wait his turn.
But Flacco was placed on injured reserve after starting the first eight games of the season. Once Allen had lost two games in three starts, the 3-8 Broncos decided it was time to give the rookie quarterback a chance.
With Lock under center, the Broncos have won two straight against the Los Angeles Chargers and Houston Texans. In those starts, Lock has completed 40 of 55 passes for 443 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions — good for a passer rating of 111.4.
“He is playing very well right now,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said of Lock on Wednesday. “He is doing a nice job. He’s got a good command of the offense. Their coaches have done a nice job with him.”
As a former Tiger himself — he was the offensive line coach at Missouri from 1989 through 1991 — and becoming Chiefs head coach during Lock’s junior season at LSHS, Reid said he’s been following Lock’s career since high school.
“He’s got quite a package,” Reid said. “It’s not just all of the easy stuff — that’s not what it is. He’s making some tough throws and really playing good football right now.”
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said he isn’t surprised by Lock’s initial success, because like him, Lock came into a good situation.
“He got to sit behind a veteran quarterback that’s had a lot of success in the NFL. He got to learn a lot — and you can see it now in the way he’s able to go about the process; [to] do everything and get in there and have success. You understand that you have to learn as much as possible in a short amount of time, so that when you get your opportunity, you can make the most of it.”
Lock himself is doing his best to keep the attention away from his Kansas City homecoming.
“I think we’ll all make a little too much of that,’’ Lock said Wednesday via ESPN.com. “It’s just another football game. I’ve got to prep like I did in the first two weeks.”
Still, Lock admitted that playing a game in a city where he has friends and family can be a distraction.
“You can turn the phone off — you can do whatever,” he said. “But the people that know you, that you trust — your family, your close friends — they know not to blow you up about coming home, asking for tickets, ask you for this, ask you for that. They know you have something going on.’’
For everyone else, Lock said his mother is handling the ticket requests. But he’s still hoping for a good turnout in support of his return.
“It’s going to be different,” he said. “I hope when [friends and family] walk in there in a Broncos jersey, it has a 3 on it [and] that they’re going to cheer for the Broncos — because I would appreciate that a lot.”