Berkstresser's College Debut a Display of Perfection
COLUMBIA -- Helmet in his right hand, clipboard in his left hand, headset on the top of his head, Corbin Berkstresser couldn't have played the role of backup quarterback any more stereotypically for three quarters Saturday.
He waited patiently on the sidelines as Missouri romped to a 28-0 lead during the first eight minutes of the game against an overmatched Southeastern Louisiana team. He stood silently as the remnants of Hurricane Isaac pelted Memorial Stadium with rain, watching starter James Franklin toy with an FCS defense from the Southland Conference.
Berkstresser may not move from the sideline again this season, not with Franklin ahead of him on the depth chart. In a season opener against a team the university paid thousands of dollars in exchange for an easy victory, though, the redshirt freshman predictably trotted onto the field for his collegiate debut with 2:45 remaining in the third quarter, staked to a 41-3 lead.
"That's probably the greatest feeling I've ever had in my life," Berkstresser said. "[The coaches] gave me the sign, and I'm thinking, 'I better get ready real quick.' I couldn't really think about it."
Berkstresser, who hadn't played a live football game since his days at Lee's Summit High School two years ago, didn't disappoint. The former blue-chip prospect from Kansas City rushed to the left for 12 yards on his first snap and completed all five of his attempts through the air, including a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jimme Hunt to seal his first drive as a college quarterback. He added a touchdown on the ground in the fourth quarter, finishing with 85 total yards.
Five for five. Two scores. And an exclamation point on a 62-10 victory for the Tigers.
"I didn't even come off the field after the game," Berkstresser said. "I've been playing football since I was in second grade, and just to finally live out a dream I've been working for..."
"I've been dreaming about that since I was a little kid."
Even with Franklin's job security, Pinkel said Berkstresser "had to play" Saturday-- he's just an injury away from taking over as the starter.
"He's been playing in scrimmages well and it's neat to see him, I knew he was real excited to be in the heat of the battle," Pinkel said. "We got him some confidence. That was good."
Berkstresser's first four pass completions came on that touchdown drive late in the third quarter, connecting with four different receivers: Dorial Green-Beckham, L'Damian Washington, Marcus Lucas and Jimmie Hunt.
His fifth completion was his longest of the night, once again finding Hunt streaking down the right sideline for a 33-yard gain.
Perhaps caught in the excitement of scoring twice in front of an announced crowd of 62,173 fans, Berkstresser said after the game he did not realize he debuted with a five-for-five performance.
"Is that what it was? That's pretty cool, pretty cool," Berkstresser said. "I get chills thinking about it right now."