Stout's back in action

Ranked the No. 8 middle linebacker in the nation for the 2010 class, highly touted Zac Stout has returned to the practice field following surgery to fix the patellar tendons in both of his knees. Although it's early in spring camp, Stout has show glimpses here and there of why he was so highly sought-after by major college programs across the nation.

Zac Stout is back and happy to be so. At first glance, Stout – now wearing the number 10 jersey – appeared as though he hadn't missed a beat.

"I worked out a lot in the offseason just trying to get back to 100 percent, and now my knees feel good," Stout said. "They're not bothering me like they were before, so I feel really comfortable and good out there."

In evaluating Stout in position drills, bag drills and skeli drills, there's no signs of lingering effects from his injured knees. His high steps and leg movement through the bags seem fluid and sharp, his drop-backs and start-stop motion are good rather than slowed into. He does, however, need to develop his core and overall leg strength in order to have that pop needed for that quick burst.

"I feel fine running through everything," he said. "The only thing I need is to just need to get some muscle strength back in my legs and I should be fine."

After receiving significant playing time as a freshman, seeing action in 10 games and recording 20 tackles, he decided to put take time to fix his knees.

"Because I didn't play last year I redshirted to rehab my knees," said Stout. "This year I'll be a sophomore and it feels great to be back out there on the field. I just want to be out there to do whatever I can to help the team.

"Right now I'm just running with the twos and we're all just pushing each other to be better. I'm playing the Mike position behind Uona [Kaveinga], so it's good to compete and have him there because he really knows the position."

Also on the two-deep is Tyler Beck, a player once offered and heavily recruited by Nebraska, who plays the Buck linebacker position next to Stout.

Stout explained some the qualities one has to have to be a successful Mike linebacker.

"Well, you have to have good instincts when you play this position," he said. "You have to be smart and know what everybody is doing because you're the one making all the calls out there based on what the offense is doing. It's a lot of fun but there's a lot of responsibility."

On his arms, Stout bore the bruises and marks from the first two very physical, yet padless, practices.

"Yeah, things like this happen when you're competing at a high level out there," Stout said. "You go and hit those guys and they hit you back, but off the field they're your brothers. I feel like I already fit in with most of the guys. I played with most of them my freshman year and they knew what was going on with me. When I came back they just accepted me right back and it's been great."


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