STATE COLLEGE — Jordan Stout doesn’t lack confidence in his powerful right leg. It doesn’t matter if it’s kickoffs, punts, long field goals, short field goals or extra points. The Penn State redshirt senior believes he can make any kick and place the ball wherever it needs to be.
So a pair of misses — one extra point, one short field goal — at Wisconsin in Week 1 or a miss from 45 yards out in Week 2 against Ball State didn’t cause Stout to waver or question anything about his role for the No. 10 Nittany Lions.
The kicker and punter believes he belongs in his current role, and he’s earned it.
“This is something I prepared for ever since I started kicking,” Stout said Tuesday over Zoom. “From the moment I started, I’ve been doing all three, so it’s not really different from what I’ve done in the past. I like the workload. I think it makes me better.”
Penn State was already involved in one close game this season, and the four points Stout left on the board in the 16-10 win at Wisconsin loomed large as the Badgers had two attempts to tie or win the game late. And with No. 22 Auburn visiting Beaver Stadium on Saturday night, points could once again be at a premium.
Stout, though, said he spent the offseason preparing to handle all of the kicks for the Nittany Lions. He spent his first two years with the program as the punter, kickoff specialist and long-range field goal kicker. He beat out senior Jake Pinegar to add the short-range field goals within 40 yards and extra points to his workload.
Last week, coach James Franklin said he consulted with “national kicking gurus” on the best way to handle Stout’s workload. Stout said he focuses on taking care of himself in the days after a game.
“One thing I do in the offseason is I take a lot of reps,” Stout said. “I take more than you probably should take. I do it to the point where my body hurts pretty bad, and then as I work up to the season, my tolerance for a lot of kicks goes up. So, so far throughout the season, I’ve had quite a few kicks, but my body feels great.
“I take the recovery process very seriously. Every Monday, I go in and I do a lot of extra stuff. I get in the tubs twice a day, I do agilities to keep my leg speed, and I do a bunch of other things along those lines. But I feel like the biggest part is just recovering properly, and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Stout has been sterling in a couple phases of the game. He’s averaging 53.1 yards per punt, and seven of his 10 kicks have gone for at least 50 yards, including a 76-yarder at Wisconsin. All 13 of his kickoffs have gone for touchbacks. He was the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week in Week 1.
But Stout missed a 23-yard field goal and an extra point in the opener and a 45-yarder in the win over Ball State. Even though it appeared one of his misses might have been due to the laces of the football being turned toward the kicker, Stout shouldered the blame for his misses.
“I think that’s as far as it goes,” Stout said. “I feel like [long snapper] Chris Stoll’s done a great job, [holder] Rafael Checa’s done a great job. It really comes down to me making my kicks and I feel like I just had a little slip against Wisconsin, and I won’t let that happen again.”
It was a bit of a surprise to see Stout jog out at Camp Randall Stadium for the short field goals and the extra points. That had been Pinegar’s domain, and during media day, special teams coach Joe Lorig shared that the line between the two kickers last season was 42 yards.
Stout, though, won the job during camp. He had never attempted a field goal within 40 yards in his college career, and he hadn’t attempted an extra point since he was at Virginia Tech in 2018 before the opener.
“Jake’s been my biggest supporter,” Stout said. “We come in and we watch film together every day. It’s just one of those things where chartings during camp, I won the job, and he understands that. If it was the other way around, then I would support him 100%. I think all of our specialists here, we have that respect for each other. Jake is one of my best friends on the team, and there’s no bad blood whatsoever. We both love each other and if anything changes throughout the season, I’ll have his back 100% just like he has mine now.”
Stout owns a powerful leg, and even a couple of his misses — like when he drilled the extra point off the upright at Wisconsin — have been impressive. But he strives to be perfect, whether it’s field goals, punts or kickoffs. He’s shown he can change a game for Penn State, and he understands that specialists live under a microscope where they’re most noticed when something goes wrong.
But Stout won’t change his approach. It doesn’t matter the distance or circumstances or any of the noise. That’s how he believes he can find and sustain success.
“Really, as a kicker, what you’re supposed to do is every kick should be the same,” Stout said. “So I should hit an extra point the same way I’m hitting a 65-yard field goal. Nothing should change in that aspect.”