DREAM COMES ALIVE
Stocstill's hard work leads to scholarship
After a junior season that saw Cornersville native Joe Stocstill make the Region 1-A team, TCA All-State team and subsequently named to the 2011 preseason All-State team, while leading Cornersville to two unprecedented consecutive playoff appearances, the do it all playmaker learned he would miss his senior year due to a torn ACL.
Before the injury the six-foot-two QB was starting to receive lots of recruiting attention, but that all dried up when the injury occurred.
Dream fades, then...
"When I was a junior I had D1 schools recruiting me and I really dreamed of playing college football at the highest level which is D1," Stocstill recalled. "When I got injured they all stopped recruiting me. A few of them told me they would take me as a preferred walk on but I never received one full scholarship offer."
A large majority of players never play sports again after such a devastating mental and physical blow, but Stocstill remained determined as ever to play college football and followed that dream to Knoxville when the Vols gave him an offer that was hard to refuse.
"I decided to go to UT after they offered me a preferred walk on spot," Stocstill says. "Mainly because I've always loved Tennessee football, my dad loves Tennessee football and I wanted to prove to myself I was good enough to play SEC football even after I didn't get the SEC offers after my injury."
Starting his career off as a walk on, Stocstill took a redshirt year to adjust to the rigors of both the classroom and the field and took the challenge of walk on status as a blessing instead of an impossible obstacle.
"Being a walk on may have been the best thing that has ever happened to me," Stocstill continued. " I believe people go through certain things for reasons that they may not realize at the time or for a long time after the situation has happened. For me being a walk on humbled me, getting injured humbled me and taught me how to deal with a lot of things that can happen in life."
Despite being a walk on, the Volunteer coaches molded Stocstill from a slight, six-foot-two quarterback to a hulking 230 pound linebacker before switching to fullback/tight end. And although not a scholarship player, the Cornersville native found himself playing in 14 games for the Vols during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
The hard work and dedication that saw the once injured walk-on gracing the practice field his freshman season has found him realizing a life long dream of being awarded a full scholarship by Coach Butch Jones for the 2015 season.
"Coach Jones called me when I was in class, so when I saw his name pop up, I went outside to take the call and he told me that they were going to give me a scholarship," Stocstill fondly remembers. "I would say getting to tell my parents I would have my school paid for was a great moment for me. Every time I get on the field for Tennessee I try to not take it for granted and realize how great of an opportunity that this is."
Still a Bulldog
Despite being four hours away in Knoxville, home is never far away as Joe still regularly keeps up with his hometown Bulldogs and offers some advice for Cornersville players looking to follow in his footsteps and play college ball.
"I would tell any Cornersville player the same thing I would tell a player from any school. To play college football and you have to have a real passion for the game. It's not like high school where you really can just show up for the games and make plays. In college its a year around preparation for 12 guaranteed opportunities against players that are all good," Stocstill explained.
"I do keep up with Cornersville. I ask my dad (middle school coach Ray Stocstill) the scores of his middle school games and the high school games. I love Cornersville. I have a lot of great memories there and a lot of great friends."
Along with the distinction of being a scholarship football player for the Tennessee Volunteers Stocstill still finds time not just to complete his schoolwork but excel at his classes. The junior business management major and 2013 and 2014 SEC All-Academic Honor Roll member is shooting high for a career outside of football.
"I am intrigued by working in real estate and also investment banking, Stocstill said. " I would also love to help coach high school football somewhere. I really love football and want to make an impact on other kids lives in a positive way."