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BYU football: Kyle Van Noy returns to Reno a changed man

Published: Wednesday, July 29 2015 4:08 p.m. MDT

Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) celebrates a stop as BYU and Texas play Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Van Noy returns to his hometown this weekend as BYU faces Nevada in Reno. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) celebrates a stop as BYU and Texas play Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Van Noy returns to his hometown this weekend as BYU faces Nevada in Reno. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO — BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy is, in many ways, completely different than he was the last time he played at Mackay Stadium. In other ways, he’s sort of the same.

On Dec. 6, 2008, Van Noy’s McQueen High School took the field at Mackay Stadium (Nevada's home field) and defeated Palo Verde 13-12 for the Nevada 4A state championship. He describes that team as “completely dominant” with “nine players that went on to play (FBS) football.”

Van Noy rose above them all. A four-star athlete who shined on both sides of the football, he was courted by just about every major college program on the West Coast.

Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) encourages the crowd as BYU and Texas play Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Van Noy returns to his hometown this weekend as BYU faces Nevada in Reno. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) encourages the crowd as BYU and Texas play Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Van Noy returns to his hometown this weekend as BYU faces Nevada in Reno. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

Van Noy ultimately chose BYU — a school that seemed like a poor fit considering personal problems and struggles with alcohol addiction when he signed. His teammates, and many within the community, considered him “crazy” for choosing BYU.

Despite his overwhelming success at BYU, many of those same people still think he’s crazy.

“I still get criticized, but that’s just the way life is and you accept it and move forward,” Van Noy said. “I wouldn’t change my experience for anything and whatever anyone says, that’s their opinion and they can have that. But I have my own and I’m fine.”

On the field, Van Noy has lived up to every ounce of hype assigned him out of high school. When he returns to Mackay Stadium to take on Nevada this Saturday, he'll do so as one of the most celebrated defensive players in BYU history and as the face of the program.

Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) sacks Texas Longhorns quarterback Case McCoy (6) in Provo Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. Van Noy returns to his hometown this weekend as BYU faces Nevada in Reno. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) sacks Texas Longhorns quarterback Case McCoy (6) in Provo Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. Van Noy returns to his hometown this weekend as BYU faces Nevada in Reno. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

“Kyle’s probably had more attention and more praise and more spotlight than maybe any other player. I can’t say (more than any player in) BYU history, but he’d have to at least be top five,” observed coach Bronco Mendenhall. “He’s been featured on billboards, in magazines, in books, etc., etc.”

While some could've predicted his on-the-field success because of how athletic is, few could've envisioned just how much he would succeed off the field.

“If you think about that for a young person, or any person, and then to stay grounded, stable, consistent and to be able to continue to learn and grow and be teachable along the way — it’s quite a challenge,” Mendenhall said.

Indeed, Van Noy is completely different than the player that starred for McQueen High School.

Just how different?

Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) celebrates a safety during the first half as the BYU Cougars play Middle Tennessee State in NCAA football Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, in Provo. Van Noy returns to his hometown this weekend as BYU faces Nevada in Reno. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) celebrates a safety during the first half as the BYU Cougars play Middle Tennessee State in NCAA football Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, in Provo. Van Noy returns to his hometown this weekend as BYU faces Nevada in Reno. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

“Oh man, a ton different,” Van Noy answered. “I can’t even get the words to describe how different I am. But for the most part I’m just a completely different person. And that’s the most important thing to me is being (different) not only on the field, but off the field as well. I just have a lot different perspective on life and it’s better, that’s for sure.”

The senior star linebacker cites opportunities to give back to the community — including more than 300 hours of community service — as highlights of his BYU career. Through service, and dedication to BYU's unique ideals and standards, Van Noy has experienced many positive changes to his life.

“There’s so many, but (I’m) just happier, I guess,” Van Noy said of the changes. “I’m glad to be alive and to take advantage of every day and to remember why I’m here on this earth. It’s been a great experience.”

Mendenhall completely agrees.

"I think Kyle is really special and our experience and our relationship — from where it was and where it is now — has reflected that and I’m just thankful he chose BYU.”

Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Manoa Pikula (22) celebrates with Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) after a sack as the BYU Cougars play Middle Tennessee State in NCAA football Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, in Provo. Van Noy returns to his hometown this weekend as BYU faces Nevada in Reno. (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Manoa Pikula (22) celebrates with Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) after a sack as the BYU Cougars play Middle Tennessee State in NCAA football Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, in Provo. Van Noy returns to his hometown this weekend as BYU faces Nevada in Reno. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Email: bgurney@desnews.com Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

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