Tom Smart, Deseret News
PROVO — Having shocked most observers with his decision to return to BYU for his senior season rather than declare early for the National Football League draft, linebacker Kyle Van Noy is eager to make the most of his final year of college football.
Van Noy feels he has unfinished business to take care of, and his No. 1 goal is team-oriented.
"Win," Van Noy said when asked what he would like to accomplish in 2013. "I want to get better personally, but I want to win. No one likes to lose. People that know me know I don't like to lose, even in little card games. I don't like losing. The biggest thing is to win games — win the big games."
It's no secret that Van Noy has never beaten archrival Utah. After three consecutive painful losses to the Utes, it's something he would like to change.
"I can't wait," Van Noy said of that showdown Sept. 21 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. "This is a new year. After this year, we won't play them for a while. We're working hard. It will show."
Still, in the spring, he is being limited in his participation. It's not that he's dealing with injuries, or offseason surgeries — it's just a matter of not putting him at risk for injury. And this has provided Van Noy, who earned defensive MVP honors in last December's Poinsettia Bowl by scoring a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns and leading the Cougars to a come-from-behind win over San Diego State, the chance to assist his teammates and focus on various aspects of his game.
"I feel like I need to be more of a leader, but I'm more of a lead-by-example guy," Van Noy said. "I'm going to take that route more. But ultimately, I need to open my mouth more. It will grow over the year. It won't happen overnight. It's been fun coaching, and helping out the younger guys. It's been good."
Even Van Noy's teammates were surprised that Van Noy opted to play one more season in Provo rather than turn pro.
"They were happy that I stayed," he said. "Respect comes into play because I didn't leave early for the money. I think they respected my decision."
Among the many reasons that motivated him to return include "to get better. I feel like I have a lot to improve on. Another one was to graduate. I'll graduate next fall," said Van Noy. "I need to get better at everything, from being physical, to pass rushing, to getting bigger, to getting stronger. I want to be great at the little things. Being great at the little things will be noticed. When you're great at the little things, everything else will fall into place."
During his first three seasons in Provo, Van Noy has been a consistent, dominating playmaker. As a junior, he led the team with 22 tackles-for-loss, 13 sacks, eight quarterback hurries, six forced fumbles, 53 total tackles, two interceptions, one fumble recovery and two blocked kicks.
After BYU completed the 2012 campaign, Van Noy contemplated the decision before him — return to school or go to the NFL? He took the time to talk to many people and to explore his options.
"I learned a lot of the business side of the NFL," he said. "A lot of good insights from people. It was good to speak to a lot of different people."
Meanwhile, Van Noy's family took out an insurance policy on him, guarding against the risk of an injury that could jeopardize an NFL career.
At a recent spring practice, current NFL player, and former BYU linebacker, Bryan Kehl showed up to watch, and visit with Van Noy.
"He's an absolute stud," Kehl said of Van Noy. "He's going to get drafted high (next year), especially if he keeps playing like he did in that bowl game."
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