BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy was on a steady climb up NFL Draft projections, but the professional ranks will have to wait. Van Noy announced on Monday that he is returning for his senior season at BYU
“I plan to finish what I started and feel like I’ve still got some unfinished business,” Van Noy said in his official statement. “I’m looking forward to being on the field this next season with my Cougar teammates.”
Van Noy was among the nation’s leaders in sacks for 2012, recording 11.5 in the regular season. His efforts landed Van Noy on the Associated Press All-American 2nd Team. He closed the campaign with 13 after a Poinsettia Bowl performance that thus far, might be the single most impressive individual showing of any player in this postseason. He scored two fourth quarter touchdowns — one on a forced fumble and recovery, the other via interception — in the Cougars’ 23-6 rout of San Diego State.
Buzz for Van Noy reached a fever pitch following the Poinsettia Bowl. Many projections had him slotted for the first round of April’s draft. Only Georgia’s Jarvis Jones generated more interest at the outside linebacker position.
Already prominently on the national radar, Van Noy should join the fray of preseason Heisman contenders for 2013. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s second place finish in this year’s vote blazed a trail for future defense-only candidates. And coincidentally, comparisons to Te’o are already apparent in Van Noy’s decision to return.
The Cougars are using their independence to play one of the most challenging schedules in college football next year. Boise State, Georgia Tech and Texas visit LaVell Edwards Stadium, and BYU travels to Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium for a November showdown.
BYU boasted one of the nation’s stingiest defenses this past season, holding opponents to 14 points per game. Next season’s team will be without defensive end Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, another projected first rounder, but does return standout Bronson Kaufusi.