Hotshots’ Stockton balances family and football

Hotshots’ Stockton balances family and football

By Jose M. Romero, Arizona Hotshots Team Reporter

SAN ANTONIO — When Arizona Hotshots football practice is over for the day, Justin Stockton gets family time with his wife and two sons, if the kids are awake.

That’s one of the perks of being from the San Antonio area. Stockton, a running back from Texas Tech, lives in Schertz, a town on the northeast side of the city about 30 minutes from where the team is holding training camp.

Stockton wasn’t with the Hotshots when camp opened on Jan. 5. After some roster moves he was added to the team, and after some NFL opportunities that didn’t work out, he is grateful for a shot in The Alliance.

“It’s like walking into your house when you’ve been gone for a while on vacation,” he said Saturday. “I’m glad to be here, glad to compete and enjoy the beautiful weather we’ve been having.”

Stockton is among a stable of running backs who are trying to impress in camp. Head coach Rick Neuheisel said he’s looking for versatility in his running backs, and Stockton, effective as receiver and runner in college, fits that description.

“A guy obviously with great running instincts. Got the vision, got the low pads, the ability to be a break-tackles type of runner,” Neuheisel said. “That goes without saying. But then also a receiver, a guy that understands pass protection. It’s a multi-faceted job.”

Stockton got married while in college, but life is a little easier to handle now that he’s done with school. Still there are the challenges of parenting while also trying to make the Hotshots’ roster.

“We made it work,” Stockton said of raising kids at a young age. “It was tough but we came out stronger and stayed strong together.”

Hotshots defensive lineman Ondre Pipkins said Stockton is “like his little brother.” The two Texas Tech teammates kept in touch after Pipkins went on to take his shot at the NFL after the 2016 season.

“I was just happy to see him on the same team with me again, because he’s a hard worker and a hell of a guy in that backfield,” Pipkins said.

Stockton was a running back for the Red Raiders on the night in 2016 that defenses were nearly non-existent in a 68-55 ASU win over Texas Tech at Sun Devil Stadium. He scored two touchdowns and hopes to return to the stadium as a Hotshot next month.

Patrick Mahomes, who led the Kansas City Chiefs to an NFL playoff win on Saturday, was the Red Raiders’ quarterback. Kliff Kingsbury, the newly-hired head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, was Tech’s head coach that season.

“The atmosphere there was great, in the sense of how their fans were into it,” Stockton said.

Stockton said Kingsbury will thrive with the Cardinals. “I knew it was coming because just going into his office and seeing a million plays drawn up on the board, his passion for the game and the love that he has for his players and the willingness that he brings to the table to develop you into a better player,” Stockton said, “I feel like he’s going to do really well.”

Notes: LB Scooby Wright missed practice on Saturday after a bout with cramps following Friday’s session. It’s the second time he’s dealt with the issue in training camp and the Hotshots are monitoring it closely. … DBs SaQwan Edwards and Randall Goforth and LB Steven Johnson didn’t practice although they attended. Edwards had surgery for a broken finger and Goforth and Johnson were rested with groin injuries. … Alliance co-founder Charlie Ebersol attended practice with former NFL head coach Jeff Fisher. “Always fun to see the bosses here,” Neuheisel said.