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April 21, 2013

Stockton ‘grateful' for his chance

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Tyler Stockton had two goals at the spring semester’s start.

The career backup wanted to earn a fifth-year from the Notre Dame coaching staff and wanted to get into the Mendoza College of Business MBA program.

Done and done.

That Stockton, a product of the prestigious Hun School in New Jersey, got into Notre Dame’s graduate business program probably isn’t much of a surprise. That he’s still on the Irish football roster is, even to him. Stockton has seen the field in just six games during his four-year career, all during his sophomore season.

“At first when I came in from the semester I thought I was done with football,” Stockton said. “Now I got a fifth year, I just want to be out there with my teammates.”

Stockton made two sacks during the Blue-Gold Game, which amounted to touching the quarterback’s red jersey. He’s worked as the second or third nose guard behind starter Louis Nix all spring, and showed some explosive ability at the point of attack on Saturday.

Stockton is under no illusion that he’ll play much this season. He doesn’t expect to jump up the depth chart. However, unlike last year when Stockton rarely dressed for games because of a lingering knee injury, he expects to be ready.

“Just be a guy they can count on,” Stockton said. “I’m not going to be a guy that’s gonna be playing a whole lot. I’ve just got to keep working hard. When my time comes to make a play, I’ve got to make a play. It’s really be someone that’s reliable and that they can count on no matter what.”

Stockton did get noticed this spring. During Brian Kelly’s opening press conference before the first practice, he listed Stockton as a player with leadership potential. After the final practice last week Kelly mentioned Stockton again, this time as a player who’d proven he could contribute.

The surprise fifth-year senior registers with teammates too.

“He's the one that keeps us together, we hang out a lot, he's the guy that we look up to a lot, because he has a lot of stress off the field, he's trying to get his MBA and stuff like that,” Nix said. “He shows us how much he works off the field and he did all he could to get us here and he got it and he's worked all spring and he's actually been doing a great job.

“Today he had like two sacks and I think that was a good push.”

Despite the lack of playing time, Stockton said he didn’t think about walking away, aside from when he thought he’d have to after last season. Even when he dressed for Senior Day in November, took the field, then returned to the locker room to change into sweats, Stockton said he remained committed.

Now with his fifth spring practice complete - Stockton was an early enrollee in Charlie Weis’ final year - the nose guard believes he finally understands Notre Dame’s defense and where he fits into it.

“It took five years, but hey, never too late,” Stockton said. “I just want to be out there playing football. Playing for Notre Dame again. Get a chance to play more than I have.

“There’s a lot worse things in life than not playing football, but I’m here at Notre Dame, I’m grateful for it. No regrets, just having a blast.”

 


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