Kickin' back with Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Luke Stocker

Bucs rookie tight end Luke Stocker began fishing in his hometown of Berea, Ky. (a rural town where there wasn’t much else to do) and now enjoys looking for bass at Lake Tarpon.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Bucs rookie tight end Luke Stocker began fishing in his hometown of Berea, Ky. (a rural town where there wasn’t much else to do) and now enjoys looking for bass at Lake Tarpon.

Tell us what your hometown, Berea, Ky., is like.

Berea is a very small town. It's kind of a college town because there's a little college there called Berea College. That's kind of what Berea's known for. It's kind of an artsy town because of that.

So what's cool about Berea? What kinds of things do you do there?

It's a rural town, so there's a lot of nature there. On the weekend, you're either hanging out with friends or, for me, I'm a pretty avid fisherman. So I'd always do a lot of bass fishing with my buddies when the weather permitted.

Have you been able to take up fishing here in Florida?

Well, we have Tuesdays off. So I bought a boat and, if I can, I try to get out on the water for a couple of hours either in saltwater or in lakes.

What type of fishing have you done down here?

In saltwater, I've caught some redfish and drum and trout. But freshwater is what I know really well and what I grew up with. I like bass fishing, so I've been to Lake Tarpon several times fishing.

I know that Berea is not too far from the University of Kentucky. So how did a Kentucky guy end up at Tennessee?

I grew up a UK basketball fan. And that's what UK is known for, its basketball history. We all know that. Outside my immediate family, all my relatives are Big Blue faithful. They'd always talk when I was growing up about how they couldn't wait for football season to end so basketball could start. The football team was struggling bad, and I kind of grew up with that impressed upon me. So when I got the opportunity to play college football, I wanted to go somewhere that was a football school and had a lot of rich tradition. Tennessee was always somewhere I saw as being on a pedestal in college football. When I got the opportunity, I jumped on it.

Here are my weekly questions. What's playing the most on your iPod right now?

I actually listen to a lot of country, and I listen to some soft rock. So it's probably something like Lady Antebellum, Kenny Chesney or stuff like that.

What website do you visit the most?

Usually I'm shopping or something. But now, since I got the boat a couple of months ago, I'm on some kind of marine website like Bass Pro Shops or something trying to find stuff to add to my boat.

What reality show do you watch most often?

My wife has turned me on to that Real Housewives series. New Jersey is, by far, my favorite. I'm hooked on it, man.

I read that you were an academic all-state selection. It sounds like you were a really serious student.

Oh, no. I don't know how that happened. I graduated high school with about a 3.8 (grade point average). But to be honest, I didn't really have to try for that. I don't want to take any academic credit because I really don't deserve it.

But when it comes to basketball, you were definitely serious about that, right?

Yes. It actually led to my recruitment to Tennessee. There's an interesting story there. I got a little interest from Tennessee (in football) because my high school coach had sent them a highlight tape. Randy Sanders, who's the offensive coordinator at Kentucky now, was the offensive coordinator at the time. He came to my high school but couldn't talk to me because of the (recruiting) rules. But it turns out my school was going to Tennessee for a basketball camp that had nothing to do with football. They found out that I was going to be on campus, so Coach (Phil) Fulmer asked (basketball coach) Bruce Pearl to go check me out and see how I moved around. I guess he told them I looked the part because I was out there dunking the ball and stuff. The very next day, I met with Coach Fulmer, and he had me work out at a football camp they were having that week. I jumped in on the last day and did some seven-on-seven and ran some routes. After that was over, he took me back to his office and offered me a scholarship on the spot. I committed really soon. I pretty much knew.

Funny how life works sometimes, huh?

Yep. And actually, Bruce Pearl asked me to walk-on (the basketball team) at one point. I did think about it. I told him I appreciated it but I wanted to concentrate on football. I kind of knew that my future would be in football and I'd be a practice dummy (in basketball).

Guess you made the right choice?

Yep. It all worked out.

.Biography

Luke Stocker

Position: Tight endHeight/weight: 6-5; 253

Age: 23Hometown: Berea, Ky.

College: Tennessee; finished his career with 85 receptions for 956 yards; averaged 11.2 yards per catch over four seasons.

Pro: Drafted by the Bucs in the fourth round in April; has started five games and made seven catches for 73 yards.

Kickin' back with Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Luke Stocker 11/11/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 12, 2011 4:07pm]

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