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November 9, 2013

Stockton wants to give back

Some days Tyler Stockton rolls out of bed in the apartment he shares with three teammates and heads to classes within Notre Dame’s one-year MBA program wearing sweatpants. Most days the fifth-year senior dresses for the part with a button-down shirt and jeans.

Come next fall Stockton wants to put that extra education to work by going sweatpants fulltime. The gratis graduate program has taught Stockton he doesn’t want a career in management, business or administration at all.

“I sat in my class and said, ‘I can’t see myself at a desk working at a computer, I love this sport too much,’” Stockton said. “Give back man. All these coaches helping me out throughout my life? I feel like I need to do the same.”

Stockton wants to coach at the college level after his own career ends wherever Notre Dame’s bowl destination takes the program. He’s already talked to defensive line coach Mike Elston about the prospect of developing the next Louis Nix or Stephon Tuitt after helping the current versions max out.

Part of the reason Brian Kelly invited Stockton back for a fifth year after a career spent on the scout team was the New Jersey product’s effect on the locker room. With one career tackle entering the season, off-field impact appeared to be Stockton’s only way to help Notre Dame this fall.

“He's a great kid, really like his personality, he's a team player,” Kelly said. “He's done whatever we have asked him to do, whether it's on scout team just a real good team player for us. He's also a big body. The one thing that we lack around here is sometimes the depth in those positions.”

That void has turned Stockton’s final lap around the Guglielmino Athletics Complex into more than ceremonial one. Notre Dame played last week without Nix, then lost Sheldon Day and Kona Schwenke. It pushed Stockton into service on the game-clinching drive as the Midshipmen drove into Irish territory before getting stopped.

In the past two weeks Stockton has logged 26 live snaps on defense, more than the rest of his Notre Dame career combined. He’s doubled his career tackle total to two.

“I’m happy with my role on the team,” Stockton said. “I knew coming in last year, I knew I needed to be a leader to my D-linemen, be accountable. I’m not shocked that I’m getting a lot of reps, but it’s definitely a much better amount than in the past.”

Even if last weekend marked the summit of Stockton’s meaningful snaps at Notre Dame, he’s content with both his Irish career and his experience here. Nix is expected back in the lineup at Pittsburgh on Saturday night with Jarron Jones likely moving into a reserve nose guard role in place of Schwenke.

Stockton may not have found much playing time at Notre Dame, but he’s found an unexpected career path during a fifth year that didn’t feel likely a year ago. Last season Stockton didn’t travel to most road games.

“He’s an awesome guy,” Tuitt said. “He does whatever the coaches tell him to do. He’s a great friend, a great teammate as well. He just goes out there and works hard to get us better.

“He’s going to have a successful life.”

Stockton always thought that success would come away from football when he applied his undergraduate degree from the top-ranked Mendoza College of Business in the real world. Turns out Stockton hopes to stay in athletics just a little bit longer than his eligibility would allow.

A career trajectory change that started last summer within the MBA program doesn’t seem to be changing again.

“Every week (in the MBA program) it was harping on what do you want to do? What’s your goals in life?” Stockton said. “I really sat there and I was like, what do I want to do and I had to think about it. After a while I was like, I love this sport so I want to do something that involves football.”

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