Stout on His Way to Provo

In a few weeks, Zac Stout and a bunch of other incoming freshmen will be arriving at BYU to prep for the coming season. A lot of those incoming players will be looked at to fill some holes immediately. Stout is preeminent among them, as he'll look to contribute his talents immediately at inside linebacker.

"I can't wait to get there," said Zac Stout about finally getting to Provo this coming June 17 or 18. "I've been preparing very hard and working every day to prepare myself for college, so yeah, I'm very excited to get there."

Stout, a star at national powerhouse Oaks Christian, was one of the top recruits BYU signed in 2010. Subsequently, many fans and even coaches are looking at him as someone who is likely to contribute his talents on the field of play during his first season.

Stout, along with other incoming freshmen, has enrolled in summer school, which will begin on June 21. In allowing at least three incoming players to do so, head coach Bronco Mendenhall is trying something new with some players, as it's been his policy since becoming head coach that players are only allowed to arrive early if they have a relative to stay with.

The rule came about following what may be considered the biggest honor code scandal that has transpired at BYU, when a bunch of the incoming freshmen in 2004 got in all sorts of trouble after arriving early the summer before the season started. Mendenhall was promoted to head coach after that year and was given the charge to keep his players out of trouble above all else.

In allowing Stout and others to arrive early, Mendenhall is putting a lot of trust in them to keep their noses clean. Mendenhall mentioned to them that they're a good group to try out something new with.

"He told me right after signing day that he was looking to try something new this year," said Stout. "They're looking at a lot of us to help out right away and it will help us and the team for us to be ready for practices, so they're allowing us to do this and I'm really glad about that. It‘s up to us to not make him regret letting us come early."

Stout will be staying with fellow incoming freshman Blair Tushaus and another player that is unknown at this time.

"I know Blair pretty well," he said. "I met him on the official trip and he seems like a great guy."

Stout's close friend Alani Fua will actually be arriving with his new bride a week earlier as he prepares for summer school and the upcoming football season. When Stout and Fua both arrive, they should be as prepared as any true freshmen due to the rigorous daily workouts they've both undergone since the end of the football season.

"We both work out every day," he said. "We begin by stretching and then we lift weights for about an hour. After that we do a lot of running and agility training, so we're working out almost three hours per day, only resting on weekends."

A lot of their workouts have been engineered by both the BYU coaches' workout guides that they personalize for each signee and by trainers who work at the NFL combine to train players for the NFL.

"It's been really good," Stout said. "They've done a lot of new stuff and most of it is about agility training, which I really like. I feel stronger, faster and I can move better than I ever have, so hopefully it's enough that I can compete and help the team right away my first year. I can bench about 325 now, which is the most I've ever been able to do, but the best thing is my flexibility, which I think has really improved. I weigh about 230 now, which I think is a good weight for me."

For those that follow the program, it's no secret that there are a lot of holes to be filled at the inside linebacker position. Scant experience exists among those who will be vying for both the Mike and Buck positions for 2010, with no one firmly establishing themselves as a starter during spring practices.

Given the inexperience at the position, it makes sense why Mendenhall is attempting something different with Stout and others in allowing them to arrive early. During spring practices, he regularly mentioned Stout's name as someone he'll be looking at to contribute at the very demanding and critical Mike position.

"That's the position they always talk about with me and where I'll probably play," Stout said. "I don't really know much about the difference between the two inside positions yet, but that's why I'm getting there early. I'll be working immediately on learning the system as best I can, so that when practices start, I'll have an idea about what to do."

Stout's goal, like most incoming freshmen, is to contribute right away during his initial season.

"I just want to get in the rotation," said Stout. "It doesn't really matter if I start, I just want to be out there. I've prepared very hard and I feel like I'm ready to go. I'm sure I'll have a lot to adjust to when I'm there, but I'm ready for it. I've been waiting to get to BYU for a long time."

A few of his buddies have now been at BYU for a while and have worked - and will work - to prepare him as best as possible to everything BYU has to offer.

"I just talked to Jake [Heaps] the other night and I talk with Ross [Apo] and Kyle [Van Noy] quite a bit," he mentioned. "They're all loving it. All they tell me is that BYU is a great place to be, like we all thought it would be, and that they love being there. I just want to get there and work as hard as I can to help out the team this next year. I can't wait to finally get there."

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