By: Oliver Nissi
December 10, 2020
I recently talked with Massachusetts Pirates newcomer Justin Stockton, the first signed running back in the organization’s history. Not only is he excited for his next opportunity with the Pirates, he’s also driven by other things that are present in his life. From raising three boys with his wife, who he’s been together with for eleven years, to growing his personal brand called, IDIFGF, which stands for ‘I Do It For God and Family’. There’s so much to learn about Stockton off the football field and his journey to signing with the Mass Pirates. Here’s what stuck out to me in this edition of ‘Pirates Profile’.
One, Stockton has always been gifted with talent from a young age. In eighth grade, he moved to San Antonio, Texas with his mother and sister from Tampa, Florida to help aid his grandfather. The year before in seventh grade, he was on a football team that had a record of 2-8. In San Antonio, Stockton continued playing football, but this time on a new team, a team that went undefeated at 9-0. Stockton put up 40 touchdowns as the new kid in town.
“My coaches played a big role on that team,” Stockton told me. “They really cared about my success and even had me lifting weights for the first time.”
Then, Stockton entered high school on a high note and was noticed very quickly by varsity football coach Mike Jinks. He was called up to varsity as a freshman and stayed there for all four years. He developed a strong and solid relationship with Jinks that would play a key role in his college decision.
In the end, It came down to Texas Tech University and the University of Oklahoma. Stockton, deciding not to ruin a good thing, followed Coach Jinks to Texas Tech University, where Jinks was hired to be the school’s running backs coach. The two would spend Stockton’s freshman year together before Jinks signed to coach at Bowling Green State University.
It was also at Texas Tech University that Stockton entered his freshman year in the same class as former NFL MVP and reigning Super Bowl champion Patrick Maholmes.
When asked about what it was like working together at that time, Stockton had this to say about his former teammate. “He has elite talent, that’s why he is where he is. He’s also got the ‘IT’ factor to win. I’m proud of him and to be a part of his legacy.”
Stockton would go on to play four years of college football at Texas Tech. He went undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft, but was signed by the Seattle Seahawks immediately following the conclusion of the draft as an undrafted free agent. Stockton was released by the Seahawks after preseason and talked about what it’s like trying to find a new home in the NFL.
“After Seattle, the Colts brought me in for some workouts but I didn’t get signed. Then I signed with the Lions, but they had me do eight workouts before bringing me in.”
There were understandably times Stockton was unsure about his professional football career.
Stockton recalled, “I’d ask myself the question: where do I go from here? I’d often think of my mother, who told me hard work always pays off. It helped me believe in myself if given the right opportunity.”
Stockton has continued to put forth hard work. Before signing with the Pirates, he went through stints in professional football start-up leagues in the AAF and XFL.
This sense of perseverance has been strongly instilled in Stockton from the get-go. Having grown up in a single-family household, his mother would end their days by telling him bedtime stories that were ‘in tune with the word of God’. Stockton states he and his wife have adapted to raising their kids in a similar manner.
“My wife and I are both built on faith. We grew up in households that went to church a lot. That’s the way we raise our kids.”
It’s notable that Stockton and his wife have been raising their kids since his college days. During his freshman year, his wife gave birth to their first child. Stockton would often have to juggle school work, practices and game days while supporting his growing family. Fast forward to present day, I think we can all agree Stockton is a seasoned pro at juggling his personal and professional work load.
Today, Stockton is just fifteen hours short of completing his bachelor’s degree in human science. He knows he will go back and finish soon, but wants to help his wife receive her degree first. As a mark of gratitude for all the sacrifice she has done for him. One day, Stockton believes he and his wife will both earn their degrees, and stressed how important the achievement is for them.
“When I finish my degree I’m going to appreciate it. It will help show my kids you have to finish what you started.” Stockton clearly shows he carries this same message with him in his football career as well.
Stockton has been spending this offseason staying in shape in the San Antonio area. He feels blessed to be able to put on his cleats again with the Mass Pirates. Stockton believes that after his football playing days are over, his next chapter will be coaching. Now, mark your calendars for April 10th, when you can see Justin Stockton take to the field for the first home-game of the ‘21 Season.
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email email@example.com or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single-game tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Facebook.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates. #GetHooked #AllAboard