The 50 most important college players in Texas in 2017 — No. 43: Texas Tech’s Justin Stockton

AS THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON EDGES CLOSER, WE TAKE A LOOK AT THE MOST PIVOTAL PLAYERS FOR EACH PROGRAM'S RESPECTIVE SUCCESS.

The importance of a player is not always defined by their skill level. The most important player on a team or in a unit is not always the best player on a team. This list is designed to breakdown the 50 most important players in Texas college football for the 2017 season. It is not a ranking of the 50 best college football players in the state. Importance can be defined by position, need, skill or leadership. We’ll count down the list through the summer, all the way to No. 1.

Previously:
50 – Lamar DE Daniel Crosley / 49 – TCU WR KaVontae Turpin / 48 – UTEP QB Ryan Metz
47 – UMHB RB Markeith Miller / 46 – Sam Houston State DE PJ Hall / 45 – Baylor WR Blake Lynch
44 – Texas Tech WR Jonathan Giles (transferred)

The History

In the San Antonio area, Justin Stockton may be remembered most for his explosive performance in the San Antonio Area All-Star Game when he accounted for five touchdowns – including three kickoff returns of more than 85 yards. Prior to that game, Stockton racked up more than 2,000 yards and 38 touchdowns on the ground as a senior at Cibolo Steele and was one of the most highly sought after running backs in the state.

After eventually choosing Texas Tech, Stockton made a living as a change of pace back behind DeAndre Washington early in his collegiate career. He ran for just under 400 yards and four touchdowns as a true freshman in 2014 before accounting for 708 total yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore. Last year, his production dipped and he managed just 374 total yards and three touchdowns.

The Skillset

Stockton has always had the ability to get up and down the field quickly. He averaged more than eight yards per carry as a freshman and more than 15 yards per catch as a sophomore, with at least one touchdown longer than 50 yards in each of the last three years. He’s one of those electrifying guys who can take the ball the distance just about any time he touches it. He has great hands as well, giving Texas Tech another weapon in the passing game out of the backfield.

The Impact

Last year was supposed to be the year for Stockton. Kliff Kingsbury was on record saying that he would be the guy in the running game last spring, but with Washington out of the picture, things didn’t workout for Stockton in the lead role. His production fell off dramatically, and the Red Raiders had to rely much more on Patrick Mahomes’ arm. The team failed to have a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time since 2013. But with Mahomes gone to the NFL, Stockton is going to have to be a guy that steps up in the backfield. Da’Leon Ward and Damarcus Felton both return, but as a senior, Stockton has the experience the team needs in the backfield. Someone will have to step up, and Stockton still has the ability and potential to be that guy in his final season in Lubbock.

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Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.

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