BYU football: Junior linebacker Kyle Van Noy considers early jump to NFL
So he worked harder.
Three years later, Poppinga sees a more humble, coachable player, one who has served as a mentor to rising star Ezekiel Ansah.
"This goes for a lot of kids who come in so highly recruited," Poppinga said. "They think they know it all and have been told their whole career how great they are."
Last year, Van Noy led the team with 15 tackles for loss and seven sacks. He did much of his damage despite playing with a torn labrum suffered against TCU in late October with four games remaining.
"He's one of the toughest players I have ever coached," Mendenhall said, noting Van Noy didn't' mention the injury until after the season. "If you don't ask him, he's not going to tell you because he loves to play and isn't going to come out of a game no matter how hurt he is."
Mendenhall called Van Noy's transformation off the field just as remarkable.
"He is absolutely honest and trustworthy," said Mendenhall, whose heart-to-heart in 2010 helped the player and coach forge a relationship that Van Noy describes as "cool."
"He makes mistakes like the rest of us, but who he has become is something to be proud of. I have been and am lucky to work with him."
The question is for how long.
"I get asked about it every day, so you do think about it," Van Noy said of jumping to the NFL.
After the season he'll discuss his options with family members and coaches.
"I also want to do what's right for the team, too," said Van Noy, who is convinced he made the right choice in sticking with BYU. "Anyone can say what they want. I should have gone Pac-12, should have gone SEC, Big 12. But I'm happy where I'm at."
He may be tempted to stay knowing next year's schedule includes a rematch with Notre Dame, one of three BYU losses this year that came by a combined seven points.
BYU defensive back Preston Hadley, one of 24 seniors who will play their final home game Saturday, believes Van Noy will return.
"I think he likes it a lot here," Hadley said. "I can't see anyone who would want to cut their time short here."
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