Back in 2013, Justin Hoover, a former college quarterback at Pittsburg State University, started working with a skinny kid named Drew Lock, then a sophomore on the Lee’s Summit High School football team.
Lock was just 15 years old. He couldn’t drive yet, so his parents dropped him off at the training sessions with Hoover.
“You never know with someone that young. But it was one of those things where you think, with the type of worker that this kid is, and the ability he has, maybe someday this could be an NFL-type of a guy,” Hoover recalls.
On Friday, six years after they started working together, Hoover was on hand in a Nashville office building when Lock, a four-year starter at Mizzou in college, got the call from General Manager John Elway that the Denver Broncos had selected him with the 42nd overall pick in this year’s draft.
“This has been a long journey,” said Hoover. “So to get to be there to see the look on his face when it happened was something I’m never going to forget. It was absolutely awesome.”
Hoover had been working as a quarterbacks coach at area camps and through private lesson services for about a year before he connected with Lock. He credits Lock in part with inspiring him to break out on his own and start his Spin It Quaterback Academy.
“Drew was really the one who sparked the idea of doing a coaching operation my way and not working for someone else,” he said. “He kind of changed the model. It was never going to be a clock in-clock out situation with him. We would focus on something one day, and maybe it takes an hour, maybe it takes two, but we’re going to work on it until we’ve got it. Not every kid is set up to work like that, but Drew always has been.”
Hoover went on to spent several years as an assistant coach to the Bishop Miege High School team in addition to his work through Spin It. And this past fall he took over as head coach of the SM East football team.
Heading into the draft weekend, Hoover said Lock and his agents had heard a few teams express interest in him. But when the Giants and Redskins passed on him in the first round, the situation got a little less clear. Early into the proceedings on Friday, the second night of the draft, though, the Broncos traded up to ensure they got to pick Lock.
“His agency has an office in Nashville, so we were all gathered in a meeting room or conference room there,” Hoover said. “And all of a sudden the phone rings and you see that it’s a Colorado number.”
The friends and family gathered in the room went crazy and celebration ensued. A few moments later, Lock came over to Hoover and the two hugged.
“I was there just kind of enjoying the moment with him a little bit, and then he says to me, ‘Now it’s time to get back to work. It all starts now,'” Hoover said. “That’s really the separation with him. He’s got this great moment. But he’s already thinking about getting better.”
Lock went from Nashville to Denver on Saturday, and then returned home to Kansas City on Saturday night. Today, he’ll meet up with Hoover for a training session.