The biggest defensive playmaker in recent BYU history may be ready to wrap up his Cougar career and take his next step forward. Kyle Van Noy is set to enter the NFL Draft, at least according to Eathyn Manumaleuna as tweeted by his brother, Ephraim.
@hobocita oh shoots ma bad. for real. at least that's what my brother just told me. i just got done FaceTiming w/ him.— Ephraim Manumaleuna (@ucE_rEnEgadE) December 4, 2012
If this is true, BYU will be losing may of its biggest difference makers on defense headed into the most difficult schedule in BYU history. The Cougar front seven is already set to lose Ziggy Ansah and Brandon Ogletree, along with Uona Kaveinga, to graduation.
Van Noy will be remembered as being a key part of the statistically-best defense in BYU history. The Cougars have been phenomenal on defense, and while Van Noy isn't a team leader in tackles, his knack for making huge plays at key moments has been unmatched.
KVN leads the team in sacks (11.5, 11th best nationally) and tackles for loss (18.5, 13th nationally) in 2012. A part of me feels many of his biggest plays (he made some beastly plays late against Utah) will have gone unheralded as the offense failed to keep up this season.
His most memorable moment as a Cougar is unquestionably his game-winning play at Ole Miss in the very first game of BYU's independence in 2011. Trailing 13-7 and with the offense struggling, Van Noy forced a fumble, fell down, got back up and returned it for a touchdown.
The play stands symbolic of what KVN did again and again in his short time at BYU.
If I had to pick one more play out of the memory bank, it would be this one: Central Florida is trying to make one last effort to tie the game. Notably-fast quarterback Jeff Godfrey tries to buy time, and in a flash Van Noy is there to snuff it out:
Okay, one more, this time from 2012. With BYU needing desperately to make a quick stop against Utah to get the ball back, on a 3rd & 3, Van Noy shed his blocker and again flashed into the backfield to take down the running back behind the line of scrimmage. (BYU would of course go on to drive the field, Riley Nelson would not be able to complete a throw to a wide open Cody Hoffman, get a FG blocked, get another shot, and kick it off the upright. See what I mean about great Van Noy plays going wasted?)
(This one isn't an embeddable video, so CLICK HERE to watch the Utah tackle.)
Van Noy has amassed 148 tackles, 41 of them for loss for a whopping 241 yards lost. He has totaled 20.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles! (two returned for touchdowns), 4 interceptions, 2 blocked kicks, and 10 pass breakups.
Counting before the upcoming bowl game against San Diego State, thanks to some help from CougarStats, Van Noy appears to rank 6th all-time at BYU in tackles for loss despite really only starting for two years.
BYU ALL-TIME TACKLES-FOR-LOSS LEADERS
1. Jeff Slipp - 49
2. Randy Brock - 46
3. Jan Jorgensen - 44.5
4. David Nixon - 43.5
5. Byron Frisch - 43
6. KYLE VAN NOY - 41
7. Ryan Denney - 40
8. Brady Poppinga - 39
9. Chris Hoke - 38
10. Rob Morris - 35
It's not inconceivable that Van Noy finishes tied for or in the top five after the bowl game. Even if he doesn't record any more TFL, doing in two years what others did in three (or four) is remarkable.
If he is entering the draft, he must have assurances of solid interest. By no means can I vouch for these sites, but just as a reference, for the 2014 class (mocks and rankings assuming he plays at BYU as a senior), NFL Draft Scout lists Van Noy as the #7 outside linebacker of the 2014 draft, while DraftSite's mock 2014 draft pegs Van Noy being selected #64 overall, which would be the final pick of the 2nd round.
The Poinsettia Bowl against San Diego State may end up being the playmaker's final game in BYU blue. If so, I'm glad to be able to have seen him prowling sideline to sideline at LaVell Edwards Stadium, and wish him the best NFL career possible.