Kehl, who played outside linebacker at BYU in 2002 and 2005-07, is entering his sixth season in the National Football League, having recently re-signed with the Washington Redskins.
While Kehl was also surprised by Van Noy's decision to stay, he said that decision will not only benefit the Cougars, he believes it will benefit Van Noy's career as well, as he builds off the momentum of that memorable Poinsettia Bowl performance.
"I was a little surprised, but I was pleased. It was the right decision. The reason is, he would have gotten drafted, but unless he tanks, which isn't going to happen, he will get drafted that much higher next year," said Kehl, a fourth-round pick of the New York Giants in 2008. "Where you get drafted makes such a big difference. If you're a mid-to-late-round pick, you've got to prove yourself. If you're a high pick, they give you every chance. And it makes all the difference."
Kehl has been sharing advice with Van Noy about the NFL, including NFL combine tips, and how to maximize his potential.
"I get on him every time I talk to him. I tell him he needs to gain weight, which he does. He doesn't really believe me. He said he weighs 242 right now, which is good. But I told him to play the 3-4 outside (linebacker) in the NFL he needs to weigh 250. He needs to play 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL, because that's his skill set. I made the same transition. I was a 3-4 outside linebacker here, but this defense doesn't exist in the NFL. His position that he plays here, he won't play that in the NFL. So he has to transition. He has to learn. The biggest thing is, he's got to be bigger. The guys in the NFL are so much bigger and stronger. Kyle's a great football player."
In the spring, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff are being careful how they use Van Noy.
"We're being really smart in terms of when and where we put him," Mendenhall said. "There's a lot of instruction, classroom-wise, a lot of work on fundamental things that we think he can clean up while we're managing his risk to getting injured."
Last season, the Cougar defense ranked in the top five in several national categories. While last year's defense set a high bar for this year's squad, Van Noy is undaunted.
"To us, that's where we set ourselves every year," he said. "Coach Mendenhall sets it that high, so we expect that. We expect the same thing as last year, if not better."
BYU opens the season Aug. 31 at Virginia, and closes the regular season with a trip to Van Noy's hometown of Reno, Nev., for a game against Nevada.
"We have a long ways to go, a lot of shoes to fill," said Van Noy. "We have the ability and players to have a great year — it's a matter of putting it all together by the time we play Virginia."
And Van Noy plans to savor every moment of his final season.
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