Fifth year all adds up for injury-plagued Notre Dame lineman
Posted: 04/21/2013 at 5:00 pm
By: Bill Beck
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Sophomore running back Will Mahone is wrapped up by senior defensive lineman Tyler Stockton during Notre Dame’s annual Blue-Gold spring football game Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
Truth Photo By Ryan Dorgan
It’s an interesting choice.
Tyler Stockton is gearing for the former, but after an eye-opening effort at Saturday’s Notre Dame Blue-Gold spring game, he found himself faced with the latter.
The Linwood, N.J., native seemed surprisingly at ease in both arenas, hitting his marks, crossing every “T’’ and dotting every “I.” It all added up to a pretty good day — a day he never expected.
Stockton was surprised by head coach Brian Kelly and the Irish coaching staff with a fifth year of eligibility earlier this year. After an injury-plagued and nondescript playing career, suiting up again after January’s BCS Championship loss to Alabama was the last thing he imagined.
He was already making plans for his MBA this summer, setting up classes at the Mendoza College of Business, a building directly across the street from Notre Dame Stadium.
“I didn’t even know. I thought I was done at the (national championship) game. Coach just called me in said they wanted to get me in for a fifth year,” said Stockton, a defensive tackle who got plenty of action against the Irish offense on Saturday. “It wasn’t even final until closer to spring ball. Once I got it, I was relieved.
“At first, when I came into the semester, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m done with football. I have to find a job.’ Now I have a fifth year ... I just want to be out with my teammates for another year, and I’m really happy about that.”
Stockton, who has battled a knee injury for two seasons, owns a near-empty career stat sheet — one tackle. It was a sack at Boston College in 2010.
Back to near-full strength, Stockton bulled his way into the Blue-Gold statistical ledger with two solos, four assists and two sacks.
Persistence may or may not get Stockton much playing time — he knows the talent landscape with the Irish and knows the checks and balances won’t fall his way.
But Stockton feels more than just a little blessed and has never become discouraged by the shortness of his football career, though he may have been perplexed after being summoned by coaches to the post-game interview room.
“I have a different appreciation for the coaches,” he said. “I’m so grateful they gave me another chance to come out and play. I didn’t think I was going to be back. I couldn’t thank them enough for giving me another chance to be here at this university.”
Stockton’s football promise to his coaches is to “be a guy they can count on.”
“I’m not playing a lot,” he said, “When my time comes to make a play, I make a play
“My first goal was to get into MBA school, which is what I’ll be doing next year, too. I’m giving my all. There are lot worse things than not playing football. I have no regrets. I’m having a blast.”