by Spencer Haynes
It might not come as a surprise that football players spend the majority of their time with their teammates, especially given the duration of a season. Senior linebacker C.J. Stalker enjoys the time off the field with his teammates just as much as the time on the field with them.
“Obviously, we spend a significant amount of time together,” Stalker said. “Over the years, I’ve grown so close to these guys. Whether it be practice, film or workouts, it’s definitely brought us very close.”
What will they do? Almost anything.
“Sometimes, we’ll just be doing random stuff,” Stalker said. “We’ll go out to Skyline Drive. [Defensive tackle] James Trucila, [tight end] Tanner Cowley, and I have been out there a couple times. We like going out there on Sundays, just hanging out together. Some people think that because we spend so much time together we might not want to hang out any more than we have to, but that’s not really the case at all.”
With Halloween around the corner, Stalker has participated in some traditional Halloween activities, such as pumpkin carving.
“Just last week the inside linebackers, we were at Coach Harmon’s house for dinner, hanging out with him, his wife and kids,” Stalker said. “We carved pumpkins. Jordan Mack, Dom Sheppard and Javar Garrett, it was their first time carving a pumpkin. That was pretty funny. Just time together like that, goes a lot further than maybe we even realize.”
While pumpkin carving might only happen once a year, there is something that Stalker and the team do regularly.
“We now have the tradition of going to movies Friday nights before the game, which is pretty cool,” Stalker said. “As a team, I know we all really enjoy that. It’s another opportunity to just hang out outside of the football setting.”
For Stalker, events like these, provide a needed respite from the busyness that comes with football.
“It may not seem like a big deal, but it does get us away from grounds, the McCue Center, the dorm room, the apartment of wherever we stay,” Stalker said. “It changes the scenery, where obviously we’re not going home really at all throughout the season or even the offseason. That’s sort of an escape for us as far as spending time together as a family, obviously not our immediate family, but the people we spend the most time with every day.”
When he’s not watching movies or pumpkin carving, Stalker could probably be found putting together a new playlist on Spotify.
“I’m a pretty big music guy,” Stalker said. “I feel like people say that and say they listen to everything, but I would say I have pretty diverse Spotify playlists, playlists that I’m pretty proud of and pretty proud to share with people. Some of my friends say they like listening to my music because they hear something new or enjoy the vibe that I bring.”
Stalker does not limit himself to any one genre either.
“I’ve got a ’70s, ’80s, ’90s playlist that I’m pretty proud of,” Stalker said. “I think it consists of 200 to 300 songs. I spend a lot of time on these. From country to EDM, anything I love listening to. I love learning about new music and hearing new music.”
This passion for music is deeply rooted. It’s origin traces back to his childhood.
“Growing up, you know I can remember going on different trips, whether it be baseball or traveling for things like that,” Stalker said. “My parents took my brother and I to Florida, or Myrtle Beach, and we’d take our dogs. We drove almost every time.”
 A good road trip calls for a good playlist.
“My mom definitely had a diverse collection of playlists,” Stalker said. “My dad, he’s not necessarily crazy outgoing or one that will sing, but he enjoys quite a bit of music. The first concert my parents saw together was ZZ Top. If you knew my dad, you wouldn’t necessarily think that to be the case. I think it comes from them, having a lot of different CDs that I listened to growing up, whether it be Kenny Chesney or John Mellencamp. I think that’s really where it comes from.”
Another passion he has received from his parents, one that has had just as much of an influence, is that of competition.
“As my brother, [Cole] and I were growing up, my dad really taught us how to compete in everything we did,” Stalker said. “My brother is three years older than me, and I can remember growing up, and something so simple as brushing our teeth, racing upstairs to see whoever could get there first, I think things like that taught us how to compete. My dad wouldn’t let us win.”
From pumpkin carving, to spending time with teammates to racing his brother upstairs – C.J. Stalker is man of many genres, much like his playlists.