Hayden Stout, linebacker
The redshirt junior from Meridian High has become the centerpiece of the Bengals’ defense. He was a self-described “part-time starter” at outside linebacker last season but is the leading tackler this year (16 tackles, four for loss) as the starting middle linebacker.
“I’ve known since the first day of spring practice that Hayden Stout would be that guy on defense for us and he welds it all together,” coach Mike Kramer said. “He doesn’t glue it together. He welds it all together.”
Last year, Stout left the game in nickel situations. That meant he often wasn’t on the field on third down.
“I love it. I hated coming out on third downs,” he said of his new role. “I feel like I’m a bigger part of the team.”
He’s eager to play at Albertsons Stadium, where he competed in high school and attended Boise State camps. He didn’t draw recruiting interest from the Broncos. The Bengals gave him his only Division I scholarship offer.
“It’s going to be super cool playing again on the blue,” he said. “I want to play the best teams, the best linemen, the best offense. It’s a great opportunity to play on TV in front of as many people as possible.”
Tyler Kuder, defensive lineman
The 6-foot-3, 311-pound end is one of the Bengals’ best players. He is a graduate of Payette High, making this a homecoming game for him.
Kuder originally planned to sign with Idaho but didn’t make it through the NCAA’s eligibility clearinghouse. He took a year off from football, accepted a scholarship offer from Montana Western at a gas station in Pocatello and transferred to Idaho State a year later.
He started 11 games for the Bengals last season.
“He was always a good player,” said Boise State sophomore linebacker Joe Martarano, who played at neighboring Fruitland High.
Xavier Finney and Jakori Ford, tailbacks
Finney rushed for a school-record 1,495 yards last season to earn All-Big Sky honors. He has 148 yards this year at 4.5 yards per carry.
Ford, the backup, has outrushed Finney with 228 yards at 7.4 yards per carry. Ford is nearing his season total from last year (260).