Jeff Benedict: The recruiting process of BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy involved trust, second chances
Mendenhall was equally blunt, telling Van Noy that he would be required to live every aspect of the honor code if he accepted a football scholarship to BYU. “BYU is a unique place,” Mendenhall said. “I told Kyle who we are and that it’s not for everyone. I was pretty clear about what he was getting into if he chose BYU.”
Jim Snelling was Van Noy’s defensive coordinator at McQueen High. A former player at Nevada, Snelling had coached plenty of kids who earned Division I scholarships, including a couple who went on to successful careers in the NFL. But he had never seen a player quite like Van Noy. “His acceleration from a standing-still position is remarkable,” Snelling said. “At the snap of the ball he just explodes. All the college recruiters saw this when I sent out film on him.”
By his sophomore year, Van Noy had a scholarship offer from Colorado. UCLA and Boise State were right behind it. By the start of Van Noy’s senior year in the fall of 2008, Snelling felt as if top recruiters across the country had him on speed dial.
Oregon, in particular, was putting a lot of heat on Van Noy to commit early. It was hard to overlook the appeal of playing there. The team played a lot of games on national television. It had the coolest uniforms. And it was sure to be in the mix for the national championship. But Van Noy’s top priority for choosing a team was much more personal.
“I wanted to play for a coach who cared more about me as a person than a football player,” Van Noy said.
Eight weeks into the season BYU was 7-1, losing only to nationally ranked TCU. On October 31, Mendenhall was with his team in Fort Collins, preparing to play Colorado State the following day. That same night back in Reno, Van Noy was in his bedroom, alone. “I was sitting there thinking about all the things I had done,” Van Noy said. “I was thinking, ‘I have to get out of this. I need a way out.’ As a sixteen-year-old, I was pretty lonely.”
Unsure where to turn, he picked up his cell phone and called Mendenhall. He was at the team hotel. It was late. After saying hello, Van Noy got to the point. “Hey, I have these issues,” Van Noy told him. “I know you have standards. I don’t know if I will fulfill the standards. But I will try.”
Excerpted from THE SYSTEM: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian Copyright © 2013 by Jeff Benedict & Associates, LLC, and Lights Out Productions, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. THE SYSTEM is available online at Amazon.com.
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