December 2, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Luke Stocker (88) runs with the ball as Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (58) comes in for the tackle during the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Stocker Getting Chance To Shine With Buccaneers

Former Tennessee Volunteer tight end, Luke Stocker, has not seen a lot of playing time come his way in his first two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

During Stocker’s first couple of seasons he’s found himself playing behind Kellen Winslow and Dallas Clark, but with Winslow moving on after the 2011 season and Clark not coming back to Tampa Bay in 2013, Stocker finds himself as the incumbent starter.

As a result of very little playing time, Stocker’s numbers are not all that impressive. So far in two seasons he has only 28 catches for 257 yards and one touchdown. The former Vol did, however, finish 2012 on a strong note with three catches for 50 yards in a week 17 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

According to Stephen Holder from the Tampa Bay Times, the Buccaneers have a lot of confidence in Stocker.

Tampa Bay showed this by not drafting a tight end in this years NFL Draft, and not pursuing a big named tight end in free agency.

The Buccaneers did add former Green Bay Packers tight end Tom Crabtree this off-season, but he’s not expected to push Stocker for the starting job.

Stocker, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Buccaneers in the 2011 draft, had several productive seasons during his time at Tennessee. He finished his career in Knoxville with 956 yards on 85 receptions. He also added eight touchdowns during his career with the Vols.

Stocker proved he could be a consistent receiving option during his time on Rocky Top.

In 2010, his senior season, he was the only player on the team to record a reception in every game.

Stocker started the final 38 games of his career at Tennessee. He was the active leader in consecutive starts when he left Tennessee.

The newly minted starter for the Buccaneers was also a leader on-the-field for the Vols, he was elected captain by his teammates.

Tampa Bay is hoping he can bring that same leadership and skill to the Buccaneers in 2013.

The team’s official website seems to think that’s very possible, saying of Stocker “Stocker is also considered a two-way player with room to grow into, perhaps, a number-one tight end in the NFL.”

Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano furthered the praise for Stocker this off-season.

I felt that Luke Stocker physically has developed himself more, practicing today at a higher level. I like that we’re building quality depth there at that position.

Stocker has an enormous opportunity in front of him this season in Tampa Bay, but he’ll have to perform up to expectations early. In the NFL there’s always someone pushing you for your job, waiting to pass you on the depth chart.



For more on former Vols in the NFL make sure to follow along on Twitter @vols_zach and @AllforTennessee

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