Stout no longer out

Many Cougar fans have been anticipating the rise of the nation's eighth-ranked middle linebacker from the 2010 recruiting class. Zac Stout had been missing from practice for a few days, but now he's back and ready to get to work in preparation for the season.

"I practiced during the first few days of practices, but then I went out for one or two practices and now I'm back today," said Stout on Wednesday. "I'm just glad to be back out on the field with the team. So, yeah, I just had to miss a couple of days and I'm back now. Everything is all good."

Stout said that he missed practice because of a misunderstanding.

"It was just some mixed up stuff and I had to get it cleared, and so I let the coaches know," he said. "It was just a misunderstanding and they just kept me out till I could let them know."

What that misunderstanding was isn't fully clear, but Stout confirmed that he was good to go with academics and with the coaches, and that's why he was back out there on Wednesday.

"Yeah, it was just some mixed up stuff and when I got it cleared up they were like, ‘Oh sorry, now get back out there,'" Stout said with a smile. "That's all it was, so it was nothing major or anything."

Good, because they'll need him this year to spell Uona Kaveinga and also to get his feet wet in preparation for next season.

"Whenever Uona is tired or needs a breather, I'll be out there," Stout confidently said. "It doesn't matter who's out there because we're all both going to be making plays, but he'll be the starter and I'll come in when he's out."

Stout doesn't need any more missed time given the fact that he redshirted last year in order to recover from an injury. Now that he's back in action, he feels much better heading into this season than he has in the past.

"I was hurt last year so I redshirted, but my freshman year I needed to grow mentally," said Stout. "Physically and fundamental-wise I had to sharpen those things up. Now I feel good about those things."

Competition is stiff in the middle of Coach Mendenhall's defense. There's a good mix of talent, youth and experience that could go four-deep according to Stout, making it tough to create separation for more reps.

"Our group, we have four players on each side that could you can throw in there at any time and they would be able to contribute to the team," said Stout. "Everyone is just ready to go and really upping their game. It's tough because we have so many really good players at both the Mike and Buck linebacker positions."

Stout is poised to be the starting Mike linebacker once Kaveinga graduates, and should enter a tough 2013 season with a lot to live up to.

"I feel like I'm doing what I can to be that next guy," Stout said. "The coaches are helping me to learn the position better and be that guy they can have confidence in when I'm out there. I just need to keep training hard and just get out there. Once I get out on the field and get into the flow, I feel like I'm a different player. Who I really am just comes out."

During the skeli portion of Wednesday's practice, Stout ran with the second team alongside Austen Jorgensen, who plays both Mike and Buck linebacker.

| "I'm with the second team behind Uona, so I'm behind him and I feel great when I'm out there," said Stout. "I love the speed and I know everything that I'm doing. I feel the mental side of the game is perfect and my physical side is coming around. Everything is feeling great."

As a redshirt sophomore heading into his third year at BYU, Stout expects to get his feet wet this year with the intent of being set up as the starting linebacker next year.

"My position, you have to be sharp in the mental aspects," Stout said. "You have to have good instincts and you're telling everyone what to do, so you have to be able to pick things up really quickly and get the calls in to the rest of the guys while doing your job.

"I know that there is a lot of great players on our defense and at my position, so I need to continue working hard and making sure that I'm ready for when my time comes. I feel like I'm making the right calls and telling people where to go. If I see something and I don't like it, I'm making certain calls and move people out or move people in and stunt people. Then the safeties are giving you coverage calls and you can help them out with that. I feel like the guys trust me and think everybody trust everybody right now. Everyone is making great progress and I'm just glad to be out there."

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