Honaker graduate Jordan Stout’s journey to the pros is an unlikely journey | Sports News


Here, Jordan Stout is on the cusp of a professional football career, boasting a powerful right leg that blasted punts that rewrote the Penn State University record books and is coveted by more than one manager. General of the National Football League.

There, Jordan Stout stood eight years ago on the artificial turf surface of Fuller Field, a scrawny future football star who was persuaded by members of the Honaker High School football team to put his foot on the skin pork for the first time in a de facto trial.

“Our kicker graduated the year before, so we were all talking about the need to find a kicker,” said Casey Dye, the Tigers quarterback at the time. “We had heard about this freshman who was supposed to be a great football player, so we decided we were going to get him a tee and a football before football practice and see if he would try to kick a soccer ball for us.

“I just remember telling him we needed a kicker and wanted to see if he could kick a football as well as a football. We lined him up for a 30-yard field goal and expected him to crush at least the first couple. He had no idea what steps or mechanics to follow, but on the first try, he drilled it. We all sort of looked at it and said, ‘You’re playing football’. See you in the fall. “

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So began a journey that saw Stout grow into an all-state kicker at Honaker, a walk-on at Virginia Tech, a team captain at Penn State, a Ray Guy Award finalist and a dude who could have his name called in the 2022 NFL Draft, scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Nevada.

This gambler’s path leads to a long-desired destination.

“To be honest with you, what we do is about trust — special teams guys and college athletes in general,” Stout said. “I think I knew that from the start. I know that’s crazy to hear because I was a walk-on at Virginia Tech and it’s been a long journey, but I always kept my eyes on the pros and always thought I was capable to do.

Jordan Stout was far from a football fanatic growing up and didn’t spend hours upon hours every weekend parked in front of the TV soaking up everything.

His grandfather was a huge Virginia Tech fan and Stout’s family followed the evolution of the Hokies and that was about the extent of the youngster’s interest.

“I had just played football my whole life growing up,” Stout said. “From the first time I kicked a soccer ball, I started to become a fan of it little by little.”

Soon this turned into an obsession as Stout did everything he could to improve at his craft and honing those skills became a year-round endeavor. Doug Hubbard, Stout’s football coach at Honaker, remembers seeing more than one gloomy winter day his star on special teams clearing snow from the grill so he could work.

His parents, Rodney and Shelley, took him to kicking camps, clinics and workouts around the country for which he remains grateful.

It paid off as he finished his three seasons at Honaker with 20 field goals, 123 extra points, a 45.5-yard punting average, and caught the eye of varsity programs.

He continued at Virginia Tech and after two seasons with the Hokies, he transferred to Penn State, where he flourished with great performances for the Big Ten Conference program.

Stout left Penn State as the Nittany Lions’ career leader in punting with 44.5 yards on 100 attempts.

The 6-foot-3, 209-pound Stout was one of only four guys at the NCAA Division I FBS level to manage punts, kickoffs, field goals and extra points in 2021.

He averaged 46.01 yards on 67 punts this season and was San Diego State’s Matt Araiza runner-up for the Ray Guy Award, given annually to college football’s best at that position.

Stout also handled kickoff duties with 59 touchdowns on 65 attempts and had 82 points on field goals and PATs. He even completed an assist in a game against Michigan.

Stout didn’t have a single blocked punt or returned kickoff for a score during his time in college.

Go one step further when it comes to stats and Stout’s kicking game was near perfect.

“What really jumps out at us from a numbers perspective on Stout is his strong performance in both open field and deep situations,” said Dennis Brookner of the Puntalytics website. “That sets him apart from most college bettors and also, interestingly, from Matt Araiza, who is very strong in the open field, but weak in tight situations. Stout is often talked about as ready for the pros and I suspect that prospect is at least partially driven by his ability to excel in all parts of the field.

Scouts has plenty of great movies to see when it comes to Stout. He, Araiza and Jake Camarda of Georgia are the best bettors in this class.

“What comes out of Stout’s study is suspension time,” said Mark Schofield, an NFL draft expert. “Stout has consistently put cover players in a position to limit damage on returns, getting a ton of time out on his punts. He also showed power down his leg, including a 76-yard punt against Wisconsin in the season opener. While he handled kicking duties for Penn State, everything points to him being a full-time punter at the next level and a good one at it.

Stout declared himself for the NFL Draft on January 4 and things have been a whirlwind ever since.

He played in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama in February.

Stout participated in the NFL Combine in March at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

There was Pro Day at Penn State.

Private workouts and Zoom interviews with countless NFL clubs have also been part of his itinerary.

“I think the best way to put it is that it’s been a lot of fun,” Stout said. “A lot of people see it differently, but I just had a great time through the process.”

A stellar performance helped set that mood.

“Honestly, I had a great offseason,” Stout said. “I was very consistent in my punts and kickoffs. Every workout I had, I increased my draft stock each time. I didn’t leave anything there and I think I helped myself.

Tight end Heath Miller is the only Honaker graduate to play in the NFL as he was a first-round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2005 out of the University of Virginia and played for the Steelers from 2005-2015, winning two Super Bowl rings and earning two Pro Bowl selections.

He monitors Stout’s progress.

“I caught up with him on the phone a few months ago,” Miller said earlier this week. “I definitely encourage him and wish him the best. This is an exciting time for him and his family and I know he will be successful wherever he goes.

Where will it be exactly?

“Some punter needy teams that Stout would start right away and help out: Rams, Chargers, Bears, Falcons, Eagles,” Brookner said.

There are only 32 starting punter jobs available in the NFL, so the competition is fierce.

“For Stout, teams to watch include the Atlanta Falcons, who haven’t re-signed Dustin Colquitt and currently have Dom Maggio as their only punt option heading into the season,” Schofield said. . “The New York Giants also have a need for this position, after releasing Riley Dixon. They have Jamie Gillan on the roster, but Gillan only pinned 15 punts inside 20 in 42 attempts last season, unlike Stout who pinned opponents inside 20 on 34 occasions. Then there’s the Los Angeles Rams, who released Johnny Hekker this offseason. [and recently signed Riley Dixon].”

Stout will reunite with friends and family in Nashville, Tennessee during the draft as they celebrate the start of a new adventure.

“Even if I’m not drafted, that’s cool too,” Stout said. “Then I can choose where I go.”

“It all comes down to trust,” Stout said. “And in trying to be as far from cocky as possible, you have to believe that you’re the best. I know I’m going to do well, because I have that mentality. I’ve been matched with several punters at NFL practice and I believe I have what it takes and I need to keep working hard to improve.

The guy you could say discovered Stout is one of many people in Southwest Virginia proud of the prized bettor.

“It was great to watch him grow into the football player he is,” Dye said. “I don’t think a lot of people understand how much work and dedication it takes to do what he’s doing right now. It’s crazy to think that the 100-pound kid we spoke to that day on the court is getting ready to hear his name called in the NFL Draft. He deserves it and I’m just grateful to be a tiny part of his footballing journey.

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