A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to go down to San Antonio to watch a friend of mine play in an area all-star football game. As exciting as it was to see said friend compete against some of the best players in the south Texas area, watching a particular player return three kickoffs for touchdowns immediately grabbed my attention. Frantically I grabbed a program and tried to look this kid up, and to my surprise it was Texas Tech’s very own: Justin Stockton. It was no surprise he received the honor of offensive MVP after the game. He’s shown off his speed, and he’s shown that he can compete in big games, but there hasn’t been much of a spotlight for him considering he was backing up DeAndre Washington. There have been doubts about his size and ability to run between tackles, but with the season less than a month away, Justin Stockton might keep up our new found tradition of running the ball.
It seems that all the attention has been on Patrick Mahomes II which is warranted considering the athlete he is, but Justin Stockton has recently been receiving some nods as well. He was recently named to the Doak Walker Award watch list. This is no accident. Last season, Stockton ran for 367 yards and scoring 5 touchdowns. He also recorded 6 receiving touchdowns and 341 yards. Take the stats as you want, but it’s hard for any player to really record big numbers when you're behind an NFL talent like DeAndre Washington. With Washington out playing for Oakland, Stockton has found himself at that number one spot on the depth chart.
Ever since I witnessed Stockton at that all-star game, I became a big believer in his ability to be a big time player in years to come. Slowly but surely he is turning heads with his ability to outrun almost any opponent. If you’ve watched him in any game so far you will notice that once he’s out in the open field, there’s a slim chance that he’ll be brought down. We saw him do this against UTEP his freshman year and TCU the year after. This speed was a nice compliment to Washington's power and ability to run between tackles. I’ll go as far and say that you could have argued their case for being the best running back duo in the conference.
There is one concern that is blatant in Stockton’s game. He struggles to run in between tackles. It’s his size that has left with that inability to run straight up the middle. He’s not known to be the power-back, but that could change with this season. Kliff himself commented that Stockton was ‘their go-to guy”, which will be true if Texas Tech wants to reproduce their rushing yards from last season. With that goal in mind, I think Stockton receiving the majority of the carries will increase his confidence to run between the tackles, and also increase his production on the ground. It’s also good to mention that Rusty Whitt has really put these guys to work.
There have been several changes in staff and roster that have put Stockton at the front of the attention alongside Patrick Mahomes II. It is ultimately up to him if he makes a name for himself this season, but from what I saw at the all-star game and from what I’ve seen him do at Texas Tech, I believe Justin Stockton will be running in a lot of touchdowns.