Few college football players have had as much of an impact as Kyle Van Noy. The 2012 CPFA defensive player of the year is recognized as one of the best at his linebacker position and many scouts project that he will be a 1st round pick in the NFL draft this year. His football highlights at Brigham Young University have been nothing short of spectacular on the field and BYU recently created a website (kvn3.com) to honor the senior linebacker, yet his off-field contributions have been no less meaningful during the last four seasons.
The story of Van Noy’s journey to BYU is well documented. Kyle was a highly recruited athlete out of Reno, Nevada committed to play football for Bronco Mendenhall. Van Noy ran afoul of the law and Mendenhall agreed to release him of his commitment, allowing him to go to essentially any school he wanted. He needed help, he needed an environment that would keep him away from the temptations that got him into trouble during high school, and he needed BYU.
Van Noy remained committed to BYU and waited a year before being admitted to school. Five years later (Van Noy waited a year to sign after an incident in Reno) the stat sheets speak volumes to Kyle Van Noy’s place making abilities. Van Noy is the only FBS football player to record a defensive stat in every category during 2011 and 2012. He needs only a blocked kick and forced fumble to achieve the same feat again this season.
In Jeff Benedict's entertaining book The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football, he documented Kyle Van Noy’s decision to remain at BYU for his senior year. After last season’s bowl game against San Diego State University, Kyle's stock had never been higher and he was projected to go in the first two rounds of the NFL draft. In a little more than 9 minutes he scored more points than both offenses combined and led the Cougars to a gratifying victory. As Kyle entered the locker room he met Ziggy Ansah, the future 1st round draft pick of the Detriot Lions who he had mentored and more importantly befriended. Ziggy would later say that he loves Kyle like a brother and that it's largely because of this fortuitous friendship that Ziggy is now wreaking havoc on offensive lines in the NFL.
In this locker room after the game, Bronco wrapped his arms around Kyle and told him that he was so proud of him; he thought that this was the last game that Van Noy would ever play for him. Mendenhall's respect had certainly stemmed from Kyle’s incredible play on the field, but also because of the change he had seen come over this young man. Kyle overcame numerous obstacles during his life and proved that he was loyal to the commitment that he had made. Van Noy also understood the feelings that fellow linebacker Spencer Hadley, who had an honor code infraction that led to him to suspension for a few games early in the 2013 season, had and publicly acknowledged love and support for his good friend.
One of the main reasons that Van Noy came back for his senior season was that he had unfinished business to resolve. Sure, he had never beaten Utah, been to a BCS game, or gone undefeated and at the end of the season none of those things will happen, but there is no unfinished business for Kyle. He will fulfill his commitment to Brigham Young University at LaVell Edwards stadium this Saturday, he will graduate with a degree in history, he will run out of that tunnel one last time, and he will walk off the field at the end of the game reveling in the moment and wishing it wouldn't end. The game against Idaho State will most likely be won by the Cougars and Kyle may well get the last two stats (blocked punt and forced fumble) to finish with a stat in every defensive category for a third straight year, but those accomplishments won’t overshadow the impact Van Noy has had at BYU.
Kyle has represented himself and his family well; he has displayed a maturity beyond his years and been an ambassador for BYU. When Bronco Mendenhall decided to take all last names off of jerseys and replace them with Tradition, Spirit and Honor earlier this year, it was Kyle who suggested that they do this only for the homecoming game, an incredible negotiation tactic that appeased Bronco’s vision and quelled the firestorm of complaints that came from players and fans.
One of my favorite plays from Van Noy came at the end of a game against Ole Miss. The offense had been anemic all afternoon and it did not look like BYU was going to come away with a victory. Van Noy single handedly won the game that day by forcing a fumble, quickly getting to his feet while scooping up the ball, and rolling into the end zone for one of five defensive touchdowns he’s had over his career. It was the type of play that a fan always hopes will happy but rarely does.
As Van Noy plays his last home game this Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium, the best tribute fans can give is to send him off with a sold out crowd. Thank him for the legacy that he will leave at BYU. As Bronco intimated in that locker room last December, let Kyle know that we are proud of him and the rest of the seniors and that the fans appreciate all that he has done on and off the field. This will be the last time that he walks onto that field as a Cougar.
Kyle will finish the season strong and likely receive a lot of accolades and recognition for his effort. He will graduate from college, an accomplishment that most in his situation would have bypassed for the money and fame of NFL football. His time will come to be drafted and he will join his friend Ziggy in the professional ranks. When that time comes, his business, as it relates to BYU, will no longer be unfinished.
Thanks for the memories Kyle. It's been a privilege to watch you make plays game in and game out.
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