Last spring Zac stout started his second collegiate football career as a walk-on. It was a tough road that brought him there, and it seems the journey was worth it.
But let's back up a few years first. Stout began his football career the way every high school player dreams. Ranked as the No. 8 middle linebacker in the nation by Scout.com, Stout was very heavily recruited - Nebraska, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State - and the list goes on.
There was good reason for the attention, too. As a high school sophomore Stout recorded 112 tackles, 22 for loss. As a junior he recorded another 112 tackles, 81 of which were solo, averaging 8.6 per game. Now throw in a couple of interceptions - one for a TD - and a pair of fumble recoveries. Oh, and if that weren't enough, just for good measure he lettered in baseball as well.
Turning down some of the biggest programs in college football, Stout came to BYU and started his freshman year with a full scholarship. In 2010 he earned letterman honors recording 20 tackles in 10 games.
Stout redshirted his freshman year and then found himself in some trouble. Dismissed from BYU after being charged with assault following the infamous Rancheritos incident, Stout found himself without a team and without a school.
Many a player in such a situation would give up, or move on. Zac Stout did neither. Instead, he clawed his way back. He enrolled at Utah Valley University, where he kept his grades up as he tried once again to meet BYU eligibility. After a lot of effort, and with the support of family and friends, Stout was readmitted to BYU.
With his scholarship gone, Stout joined the Cougars in spring practice as a walk-on. He worked hard, proved himself to be disciplined, and just before the season began he received the good news that his scholarship was reinstated.
Zac Stout was back, and he wanted people to know it. He recorded 10 tackles in the Cougars' season opener against UConn, then six more against Texas the following week And of course none of us can forget how he performed last week against Houston, as he exploded through the Houston line and leveled Ryan Jackson in the end zone for a safety.
Stout now leads the Cougars in tackles, and that says a lot about a guy who lines up with the likes of Craig Bills, Skye PoVey, Dallin Leavitt and Alani Fua. It's a lineup that makes me awfully glad I am not playing offense for Virginia today.