Few believed linebacker Kyle Van Noy would return to BYU for his senior year after his dominant performance in last year’s Poinsettia Bowl victory over San Diego State.
Why risk an injury, a drop in draft stock or a moment of weakness with the honor code, some have questioned?
Dennis Dodd, a senior college football columnist for CBSSports.com, recently wrote an article featuring Van Noy and his decision to come back.
“I think he came back because he didn’t think his work at BYU was done,” outside linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga told Dodd. “I think he felt like he needed BYU for one more year, to help him out in life.”
As a recruit, a DUI almost ended Van Noy’s BYU opportunity before it began, the article recounts. But he declined offers from several prominent programs to keep his commitment to the Cougars. He eventually earned his way back, but success didn’t come quickly. With time, patience and hard work, Van Noy, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, improved as a player and a person within the structure of BYU’s program.
Last December, Van Noy almost single-handedly led the Cougars to their Poinsettia Bowl victory with 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, a blocked punt and two touchdowns -– one on an interception return, another on a strip-and-score fumble recovery. His coaches never imagined he’d return for his senior year, especially considering that draft projections had him going in the top two rounds.
Then a few days later, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound playmaker had a moment of clarity.
“It was just a moment that you have, and I had one,” Van Noy said. “The best thing for me was to stay.”
The article also describes Van Noy’s friendship with San Diego Chargers’ linebacker Manti Te’o, former BYU center Brandon Davies, and his involvement in a forthcoming book, “The System,” by Jeff Benedict and CBS’s Armen Keteyian. To read the rest of the article, visit www.cbssports.com.
Another Latter-day Saint football player is hoping to start a career in the Canadian Football League.
Isi Sofele, a Salt Lake City native, played his college football at the University of California before signing as a free agent with the British Colombia Lions in June. An article in the Vancouver Sun by Mike Beamish said that Sofele has impressed B.C.’s general manager Wally Buono.
“He’s for real,” Buono said in the article. “He’s tailor-made for our league.”
The article recaps Sofele’s Mormon roots in Salt Lake City, experiences he had at Cal and his excitement for an opportunity with the Lions.
Many LDS athletes are postponing college plans to serve a 2-year mission.
Payton Dastrup, one of the top-75 high school basketball players in the class of 2014, won’t suit up as a college freshman until the fall of 2016 for that reason.
Dastrup, a 6-foot-10 center from Mesa, Ariz., has offers from BYU, Virginia, Utah State, Florida, Arizona, Arizona State, as well as interest from schools like Michigan, Duke, Kansas and Notre Dame. But the recruit is committed to serving a mission and insists he won’t appear on a court for another three years, according to CBSSports.com.
“It doesn’t change much for me,” Dastrup said, “but schools are looking at me as a freshman in the class of 2016.”
Finally, an article by Chris Garry on Perthnow.com describes the life of rugby star Will Hopoate in the final months of his mission in Brisbane, Australia. He has not watched a single minute of rugby in 18 months, Garry wrote.
“There are people around who give us a heads up about the footy, it is something I can’t completely avoid,” Hopoate said in the article. ”It is a good icebreaker, to find common ground. When I’m out in the community, I get rugby league fans who notice the badge with the Hopoate name on it.”
Hopoate still cuts an imposing figure and has a strict exercise routine during the one hour he has every morning to prepare himself for the day.
Parramatta trainers have come to Brisbane every few weeks to put Hopoate through their own programs to ensure he is not losing complete touch with the game, but they don’t interfere with his missionary work.
Hopoate is grateful for his mission experiences.
“The mission has definitely helped me become stronger mentally,” he said in the article. ”I know my capabilities now.”