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By GOOSE LINDSAY
Hard work in the classroom and on the gridiron is paying off for Kingston’s Chris Stout as Wednesday afternoon the Yellow Jacket OL/DL signed his Certificate of Intent to play for the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
“This is pretty exciting,” Stout said after signing the military academy’s version of a National Letter of Intent. “To realize a dream I’ve had since I was little is incredible.”
“I’m tickled to death,” Kingston head coach Vic King added. “It couldn’t happen to a better person or player. Chris is simply an outstanding player, person and student that has worked really hard for this. I wish him all the best.”
Playing at the Air Force Academy is a big deal in more ways than one.
On the field, the Falcons are coming off an 8-5 season and an appearance in the Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl. Air Force also plays in the Mountain West Conference that includes Utah, BYU and TCU among its nine teams.
Off the field, however, is where Air Force excels. The Air Force Academy has tougher entrance requirements than most schools, but Stout scored a 28 on his ACT and his GPA of 3.3 allowed him to meet Air Force’s tough standards.
“Getting a degree from the Air Force Academy is something everybody recognizes,” Stout said. “After I graduate and serve my commitment, I know I’ll be guaranteed a job just about anywhere I want.”
“Chris is getting an opportunity that not a lot of people get,” King added. “It’s not going to be easy, but I know Chris is going to succeed. He comes from a good family and he’s going to have a leg up on life after he graduates.”
Life, however, won’t be easy for Stout at the Air Force Academy. He will go through five weeks of basic training where he will have no contact with the outside world. He will not be permitted to have a car or television until his junior year. Plus, just about every minute of his day will be mapped out by the military.
Then after his time at the academy is over, Stout will serve five years in the Air Force and another three years in the reserves.
“It took me a couple of weeks to make sure, but I know this is a great opportunity for me,” Stout said. “I think not having a phone for those five weeks will be the toughest. Not being able to text is going to be rough.”
With all that Stout will have to endure off the field, playing Division I football might be the least of his worries, but he has all the tools in place to make an impact at the highest level.
“Chris has got everything you want in a player,” King said. “He’s hard-nosed, aggressive and he has exceptional quickness, plus he has plenty of room to grow.”
Stout played on both the offensive and defensive line at Kingston and although he prefers defense, he said a decision has yet to be made as to whether he will play offense or defense for the Falcons. Stout, however, knows he’d better be ready from day one.
“I’ve definitely got to work on my fitness,” he said. “The air is so much higher up there and I’m going to have to be in great shape before I leave.”
“He’ll have to continue lifting weights and running,” King added. “He’d better be ready to hit the ground running. You have to be ready no matter where you go, but even more so at a school like Air Force.”
Stout is also looking forward to playing against conference powers like Utah and BYU. He will also get a chance to play non-conference games against Oklahoma in 2010 and Florida State in 2011 and again in 2012.
Playing in a tough conference, however, won’t be that big of an adjustment for Stout as his high school region included 2008 state champion Knoxville Catholic as well as former champions Austin-East and Fulton.
“Anytime you play one of the best teams it’s exciting,” he said. “It’s kind of like playing Catholic this year; you feel you have something to prove and I know that’ll be the case at Air Force.”