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Are Van Noy and Keeton dark horse Heisman contenders? Sports Illustrated lays down the odds

Published: Sunday, July 5 2015 7:42 p.m. MDT

Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) celebrates his defensive touchdown with teammates during  the Cougar season opener with Ole Miss  in Oxford, Miss  Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011. BYU won 14-13. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) celebrates his defensive touchdown with teammates during the Cougar season opener with Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011. BYU won 14-13. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Could KVN be the next Johnny Football? Will someone named Chuckie become the second college quarterback from the state of Utah to win a Heisman?

In its Aug. 19 print issue, Sports Illustrated predicted the odds for several players to make a Johnny Manziel-type rise to winning the Heisman Trophy. Last year, Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback who earned the nickname Johnny Football, became the first freshman to win the Heisman after starting the season out of the spotlight for college football's top individual prize.

Two of the players Sports Illustrated identified as dark horse candidates to make a similar rise to a surprising Heisman victory are well-known in the state of Utah: Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton and BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

Sports Illustrated writer Zac Ellis gave Keeton 100-to-1 odds to win the Heisman this season. He said the junior Aggie quarterback has a shot at winning the coveted trophy because "he enters 2013 as Utah State's career leader in completion rate (65.6 percent), and he has all five starting offensive linemen returning."

BYU's Kyle Van Noy speaks with the media during the 2013 BYU Football Media Day. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU) BYU's Kyle Van Noy speaks with the media during the 2013 BYU Football Media Day. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU)

Van Noy faces longer odds to win the Heisman, by Ellis' numbers. Of the seven football players listed in the article, the senior outside linebacker's odds are the worst, at 150-to-1.

Ellis said this of why Van Noy has a shot: "With a standout campaign against a daunting schedule that includes Texas, Wisconsin and Notre Dame, the Cougars' defensive leader could raise his profile just enough."

During the 2012 season, Manziel's offensive statistics were impressive, especially for a freshman. Facing some of the toughest opponents in college football in the SEC, Manziel completed 68 percent of his passes and threw for 3,706 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He truly proved to be a dual threat, rushing for 1,410 yards and 21 additional scores.

As a sophomore last year, Keeton also put up strong numbers. He completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,373 yards, 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Like Manziel, Keeton was also dangerous on the ground, rushing for 619 yards and eight touchdowns.

Utah State Aggies quarterback Chuckie Keeton (16) is lifted by fans as Utah State University defeats Toledo 41-15 as they play football in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in Boise. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Utah State Aggies quarterback Chuckie Keeton (16) is lifted by fans as Utah State University defeats Toledo 41-15 as they play football in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, in Boise. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Van Noy continued to harass opposing offenses during the 2012 season. At year's end, he had 53 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, six forced fumbles and two interceptions. He returns this year as the NCAA's active leader in career sacks, No. 2 in forced fumbles and No. 3 in tackles for loss.

Email: bjudd@deseretnews.com; Twitter: @brandonljudd

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