Justin Stockton was one of the most electric players in Kliff Kingsbury’s arsenal in 2017, leading the team in rushing with 694 yards and four touchdowns. He showed off his lightning-quick feet in the first Red Raider touchdown of the season.
Justin Stockton scores the first Red Raider touchdown of 2017. Tech currently leads 7-3 in the second quarter. pic.twitter.com/3WULCuVFHf— Lubbock A-J Photos (@LAJ_Photo) September 2, 2017
10. Justin Stockton, RB (Preseason Rank: NR)
Stockton’s 6.1 yards per carry was unequivocally the highest on the team, eclipsing Tre King’s second-best 4.9 average by more than a yard. A good chunk of that average came from an 84-yard run against Houston, which somehow didn’t result in a touchdown.
Safe to say that Texas Tech RB Justin Stockton just flipped the field — an 84-yard burst for the kid from Cibolo Steele. #WreckEm pic.twitter.com/aeSISxkuBN— Dave Campbell's Texas Football — TexasFootball.com (@dctf) September 23, 2017
I’d be exhausted after sprinting 84 yards, too, so I can’t blame Stockton for failing to get into the end zone.
As most running backs in the Air Raid system are ordered to do, Stockton established himself as a viable threat in the passing game. He led the Tech backfield with 25 catches for 203 yards and one touchdown, averaging 8.1 yards per catch. Collectively, Stockton averaged 6.5 yards every time he touched the football regardless of how he got it. Not bad at all for someone who led the team in touches (139, with Tre King in second with 137).
Stockton’s best game of the year came against Kansas (I imagine this is the case for many Tech players in the 65-19 blowout) when he carried the ball 15 times for 161 yards and a touchdown, while also hauling in two passes for 33 yards.
Ultimately, Stockton did in 2017 what you would want every senior on your team to do—have his best statistical year in nearly every category. His 897 combined rushing and receiving yards were by far his best during his tenure in Lubbock and he served as a dependable option when the team needed first downs and touchdowns. He never seemed to go backwards and he almost always made the first man miss in open space. Despite heavy competition from all the weapons in the backfield and on the perimeter, Stockton—once considered a bust—established himself as the most reliable skill position player by leading the team in touches and yards per carry. Without his contributions, Tech would likely be sitting at home with the rest of us watching bowl games and eating whatever snacks were recommended in the Anti-Preview.
Thank you for a great career, Justin.
It’s difficult to say what’s next for Justin Stockton. He’s not projected to be selected in the 2018 NFL Draft, ranked as only the No. 37 running back in the entirety of the class. While he doesn’t have the most decorated collegiate career to vouch for him, at least statistically, Stockton has speed and quickness that you just can’t teach. He’s been clocked at running a 4.37 and he’s looked faster than that on the field at times.
Behind a better offensive line and in a different style of offense, Stockton could easily have been a 1,000-yard rusher at this level. Perhaps an NFL team will take a chance on him as an undrafted free agent, or maybe he’ll try out the Canadian Football League.
Regardless of what happens next, Stockton has the support of 200,000 alumni at his disposal. And that’s a damn good start.