NC State had Mike Glennon firmly entrenched as the starter, Tyler Brosius was slated to back up Glennon, and the Wolfpack had just inked in-state product Brian Taylor.
Fast forward a year and Brosius and Taylor are no longer a part of the program. Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas must sit out the season due to NCAA rules, so Stocker is now the only other scholarship quarterback available for action.
"You never make assumptions," said offensive coordinator Dana Bible. "Everybody is up and ready to go. [Coach O'Brien] doesn't declare anyone redshirted. Everybody is on deck and we work hard to develop him right from the start."
Stocker, starred during his senior season for Coatesville (PA) High School. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder led his team to a 9-3 mark while passing for nearly 2,000 yards with 20 touchdowns and another 10 rushing touchdowns.
He had earned an offer from the Wolfpack over the summer, showcasing his ability during one of State's camps.
"Out of high school, we saw really an outstanding athlete [in Stocker]," said Bible. "When we recruited him, we were impressed with him. He's really a sharp young man and has a good way about him.
"When you watch him play in high school on the field he had a real presence about him. He could take the game over."
What has been a blessing in disguise for the Wolfpack is Stocker's ability in the classroom. A strong student, he was able to graduate early from Coatesville and enroll at State in January, which allowed him to go through spring practice.
"No question [that was a plus]," said Bible. "When it worked out that he was able to graduate early because he was so sharp and be here with us, we were aggressive about it.
"Manny is very intelligent and very talented. That helps the process."
Now Stocker finds himself No. 2 on the depth chart and it sounds like the coaching staff is fully expecting him to receive reps this year.
"We're treating him like a redshirt freshman," Tom O'Brien said of Stocker following Thursday's practice. "He's already been through spring practice so he's way ahead. Who knows? We're going to end up better at that position than we were a year ago I think."
A bonus for Stocker is that he will get to spend this season learning from talented senior signal-caller Mike Glennon. Coach Bible seems extremely pleased with the progress Glennon, who passed for 31 touchdowns in his first season as a starter, has made since the end of last season. According to Bible, Glennon is "miles" ahead of where he was just months ago.
"Which is really impressive because he was at a high level at the end of last year. He has gone much further."
He also feels that being able to watch another player perform well at your position can certainly speed up your development.
"That's true of any position," said Bible. "One of the coaching points is just do it like he did. We can talk until you're blue in the face but a lot of learning in this game is to see it and then replicate it.
"There are all forms of learning and teaching, and there are a lot of players that's absolutely the way they can put the pieces together. They see it, they process, and they see they can do that."