But for all of Stockton’s blinding speed, the thing he desires most to do in the 2015 football season is slow down.
“Running through the middle, the thing with that is I was having trouble seeing the holes,” says Stockton when asked to explain how he can improve in 2015.
“And now I’ve watched a lot of film, talked to coach Jinks and sat down with him, and really it’s just patience. If I get the ball and run I got to see the defense and what defense they’re in and stuff of that nature.”
For many of us who don’t actually play the game of football, patience as a virtue in a running back seems almost counter-intuitive. After all, when the quarterback hands you the rock there are 11 large and angry men within spitting distance who would like nothing more than to turn you into a grease-spot. According to Stockton, however, the knack for patience is something that simply comes with experience.
“It [learning patience] is a process, especially when you’re younger ‘cause you just want to get the ball and run, but once you get older and start seeing more, you’ll see that if I’m more patient, and if I slow down I’ll have more time to go and then hit it.”
But when applied to Justin Stockton the word patience has a dual meaning. On the one hand it means playing the game more slowly and seeing the defense better. On the other, however it means recognizing his current role as the star-in-waiting behind stellar starter DeAndre Washington.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Stockton declares when asked what the division of labor in the backfield will be this season.
“Coach Kingsbury and coach Jinks have the gameplan all ready I’m sure, but me personally, just be patient, wait until it’s my time to show people what god blessed me with.”
What Stockton hasn’t necessarily been blessed with, he’s working to acquire through hard work in the weight room. For while he had an impressive freshman season, Stockton wasn’t always physical enough to break arm tackles and to finish runs with a powerful closing surge. That may change in 2015.
“When it comes down to it, my goal for the spring was to show people that I could be physical, that I could run it between the tackles and not just run it outside. So that me personally, I also have the speed to get outside, but I also want to go inside.”
Stockton is now up to 193 pounds, some 13 pounds more than his playing weight of 180 as a freshman. That alone should guarantee Stockton brings a heavier load than he used to. And if so, it may be the patience of Kliff Kingsbury that will be tested. He may not be able to stop himself from taking advantage of this emerging talent sooner rather than later, regardless of the wealth of talent in the backfield.
*Listen to what Justin Stockton has to say about the recruiting pipeline Texas Tech has established to his alma mater Cibolo Steele High School and about the role his faith plays in his life in the audio below.*