This past season, we witnessed something that was quite a rarity. In the race for the Heisman Trophy, Notre Dame Fighting Irish LB Manti Te’o, a solely defensive player, finished second in the voting for the coveted award recognizing the best player in college football for that season.
Is it completely out of the realm of possibility to say that someone with primarily a defensive presence may some day win the award? No, absolutely not. The problem for a defensive player is getting yourself noticed. This past bowl season, no one did that better than a fellow Linebacker from another Independent institution, BYU Cougars LB Kyle Van Noy.
If you weren’t watching the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl this past December, then chances are that you have no idea what I’m talking about. Also, if you weren’t watching, you missed one of the greatest individual performances by a defensive player in a bowl game, possibly ever.
In a 23-6 triumph over the hometown San Diego State Aztecs, Van Noy gave the phrase “taking the game over” his own meaning. The junior Linebacker recorded 8 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and forced a fumble. Wait, we’re not done yet. He also recovered a fumble which he ran into the end zone for 6 of those 23 BYU points. Then, maybe because he was bored, he intercepted a pass and ran that into the end zone, adding his personal point total to 12 on the night. Van Noy accounted for more than half of his team’s point total. Oh, and by the way, he thought that blocking a punt while he was at it would be pretty exciting, so he did that too.
The rest of his 2012 season wasn’t exactly what you’d call “average” neither. Van Noy had a stellar season in 2012 with 53 total tackles and 13 sacks. The mind-blowing performance in the bowl game was just the icing on the cake. But now, its time to capitalize on the finish from last year and move on to bigger things.
Looking up and down the Cougars’ upcoming 2013 schedule, the stage is certainly set for Kyle Van Noy to make an impact in front of a national audience. With scheduled contests against the likes of the Texas Longhorns, Wisconsin Badgers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and Boise State Broncos among a few others, there’s an ample number of chances for the LB to state his case in front of the nation that he is the best football player within our 50 states.
Even with the near win for Te’o last season, are the chances still pretty slim that Kyle Van Noy could be on a New York City stage this December with the Heisman Trophy? Of course, defensive players will never start out with the same consideration that the offensive players do who constantly have the ball in their hands. However, with every interception, forced fumble, and blocked punt that he can create this season, the chances of him putting his name next to Ty Detmer on the BYU Heisman winner list get that much better.