Penn State phenom Jordan Stout doesn’t have a catchy nickname like one of his positional contemporaries in the 2022 NFL Draft. Maybe it’s time that he did. He punts, handles kickoff responsibilities, and has the longest field goal in Nittany Lions history on his résumé. In a murky quarterback class, he might even be the QB1. Putting the special into special teams, Stout is truly the “Mr. Do It All” of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Penn State phenom Jordan Stout is the “Mr. Do It All” of the 2022 NFL Draft
“It’s definitely huge,” Stout says of the versatility element of his game during a recent sitdown with Pro Football Network. “There’s a lot of good punters in the league. There’s a lot of good kickers in the league. But, there aren’t a lot of people who are great at both. I’ve always prided myself as a combo guy. I’ve figured out how to do all three at a high level.”
While there are punters who can kick and placekickers who can punt in a pinch at the NFL level, being good, or great in Stout’s case, is a rarity. The Nittany Lions product has boomed kickoffs for fun, leading the nation early in his career. A 57-yard field goal against Pitt tied a Penn State record that had stood since 1973. His punting distance, average, and hang time hold up with the best in the nation.
Then, there was the game against Michigan that helped earn Stout comparisons to Johnny Hekker, one of the greatest punters of our generation. On a fourth-and-6 play early in the first quarter, the Penn State punter rolled out right to punt just inside his own half. But, rather than boom the ball back to the Wolverines, he unfurled a 25-yard pass for a first down. Joking about being QB1 aside, it’s another element of versatility to his game.
“It’s kind of natural. You can throw a ball or you can’t,” Stout smiles. “It’s from years of playing backyard football growing up. At that point in the season, my coaches had a lot of trust in me as a punter. So, we spent more time working on fakes because we knew we could work it in because they trusted me. We hadn’t ran a fake in I dunno how many years, and we ran three this year. It’s crazy.”
Earning trust at Penn State has propelled Stout toward the 2022 NFL Draft
Trust is a key word to know when attempting to understand Stout’s journey to the 2022 NFL Draft. The versatile and dominant Penn State standout has a genuine shot at being the first special-teams player selected in Las Vegas. Yet, his journey hasn’t always been so smooth, his name not always on the tip of greatness. The trust shown to him by the Penn State staff, starting with his very first game, has helped propel Stout to this point.
“For Coach [James] Franklin to put me out there in my first game, and trust me to do that, it’s incredible,” says Stout of his 53-yard field-goal-hitting debut. “I wouldn’t be where I am without that. That’s where the confidence comes from. Getting those opportunities and taking advantage of them, that’s what really takes you to the next level of knowing how good you are.”
Penn State trusted Stout from the minute he walked into College Station. A walk-on at Virginia Tech, he was immediately given a scholarship by Coach Franklin. That demonstrated to the young punter a level of trust that had never been established with the Hokies, something that he’d tried hard to build since redshirting as an undersized walk-on from the small town of Honaker.
“I went in, I did well. But I could only bench 135 pounds. I was 165 pounds soaking wet, I was a really small guy. It was hard to gain respect that way because I was so small, and I think over time I get trying to build that trust up. For some reason, it never really hit, and that’s what initially led me to transfer from Virginia Tech.”
Trust, family, and confidence are the hallmarks of Stout’s success
“I think the family aspect is huge,” Stout said, reflecting on the special and successful nature of his time at Penn State. “Coach Franklin treats us like sons. He always says he has two daughters and like 120 sons. He truly does mean that. That was a big part of it. I perform a lot better when I know the coach trusts me and has my back.”
While the family element of the Penn State program has developed Stout into an NFL Draft prospect, family has been important through his entire NFL Draft journey. As a kid growing up in Honaker, Rodney Stout used to make the three-hour round trip to take his son to play soccer. Stout’s leg was honed on that soccer field, but his confidence to succeed was nurtured by Rodney and Kimberly Stout in a positive, not pushy way.
“Obviously, I couldn’t have done it without them,” Stout reflects on their support. “Pretty much everything I’ve done up to this time I credit to them. They didn’t push me. They’d be like, ‘maybe drink some water, or go out and do some drills if you want to get better, but it’s up to you.’ I never fell out of love with the game because they never pile-drived it into me.”
Their support and belief fueled a self-confidence that never wavered from the first day he set foot on a soccer field or the gridiron. As Stout stands on the precipice of the NFL, there’s no doubt in his mind that this is where he belongs.
“A big part of what I do is confidence. So, even from the start, I always had my eyes set on the NFL, and I never really doubted that I was going to make it there.”
The path to the NFL Draft doesn’t always run smooth
While family support and self-confidence made Stout sure he could succeed, his journey to the NFL Draft hasn’t always been a smooth one. Despite being a soccer standout at Honaker — school soccer records and being named team MVP — and with a perfect field-goal percentage in his senior year, Stout was unranked by the major recruiting sites as he looked to embark on a college career.
“So, it was 100% a motivation. Even through that, I knew what I was capable of. It was to the point where I went to like nine college camps, and won all but one of those camps whether it be punt or field-goal competition, but I came out of all those camps with only walk-ons and no scholarship offers. That was kind of like a smack in the face. That definitely pushed me to be better.”
Those difficulties were evident as he attempted to forge his college career as a walk-on at Virginia Tech.
“There were situations where I felt like I was winning the jobs, and on the depth charts I was as well. But, I just wasn’t getting that opportunity. I can’t even tell you why that was happening because I was doing well, leading the nation as a kickoff guy, and never got a scholarship. And that’s when I talked with my family and decided I should leave and try somewhere else.”
Stout’s development into one of the top punters in the nation
Those days of being an overlooked walk-on, resigned to kickoff duty alone, are long behind Stout. With the NFL Draft looming, he’s established himself as one of the top all-purpose special-teams prospects in the class. While Stout acknowledges he needs to develop consistency as a field-goal kicker, the Penn State product knows exactly how to extract the very best from his game.
“I really wanted to be a good punter this year, so I took it down to a science. I figured out how far away my feet need to be when I’m taking my steps. Not crossing over. Where I need to drop the ball, for example. If I want to have a higher hang time ball, drop it higher, hold on to it longer. All these little intricacies, I hadn’t done in the past because I’d always relied on raw talent. It’s putting in that extra time and treating it like a job that takes it to the next level.”
Learning the intricacies resulted in Stout being named the Big Ten Punter of the Year and a Ray Guy Award finalist in his final season. He’s perhaps considered a late bloomer in this NFL Draft class, but that presents exciting development potential for the team that selects him.
“I figured it out this year, and I really wish I’d figured it out earlier, in terms of dumbing it down to a science. You learn so much over five years, and it’s really cool to see how fast I’ve come in one year. I’ve come further in the past three months than in college, which is unreal. It’s really because I knew this was my last chance. I believed in my raw talent and thought I was good enough to just go out there and do it. But, you’ve got to take the time to dissect the game and figure out what you’re best at.
The NFL world is watching carefully
Stout’s development over the past three months has come under the watchful eye of the NFL. There are multiple teams with punter and kicker needs in what has the potential to be a historic special-teams class. Whether it’s been working out with Jamie Kohl and his group of trainers, or at the Senior Bowl, Stout has been taking every opportunity to make an impression.
“It was important to go out there and show the coaches what type of a person I am. But also, going there and doing a good job because the conditions were terrible. The coaches have seen that I can punt in the wind, punt in the rain, do well with kickoffs. Coming out of there heightening my draft stock was really cool. When you go there, you have to do a good job.
“I honestly think the film speaks for itself,” Stout reflects on why he should hear his name called this weekend. “My process over the past three months, I’ve done really well. That all comes from the hard work I’ve done in the offseason.
“I feel like I’m reliable. Consistency is the biggest thing, and I think I am the most consistent guy coming out. I think I can make an immediate impact with not only my skill but my personality as well.”
Stout is the NFL Draft prospect with a big personality and an even bigger future
Stout’s personality stands out. Arriving on our video call with a backward cap masking his flowing locks, we share a laugh about our mutually excellent hair and beard combinations. Search social media, and you’ll find videos of him high-kicking and dancing, and we joke about a potential appearance on “Dancing with the Stars.”
He’s humorous, telling a story about the trio of punters that make up this excellent NFL Draft class betting on who would run the fastest 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. He coyly refuses to be drawn on who is the best punter in the class but inquires about how Matt Araiza ranked them before laughing it off with “I don’t want to hear it.”
Stout is comfortable in his own skin. More than that, he’s confident in his own ability to be great at the next level. While the end goal is in sight and NFL glory is surely just around the corner, Stout has not forgotten the journey that he’s taken to get to the 2022 NFL Draft. “Mr. Do It All” is ready to prove everyone who doubted him wrong.
“From Day 1, talking about that confidence, there’s a lot of people who doubt you during the process. Even in college, there’s a lot of people that doubt you. If anything, this is to prove them wrong. I can’t wait to see what draft day holds.”