Provo • A BYU football player is among the top five in the nation in kick returns at the halfway point of the 2013 college football season.
Sophomore Adam Hine, who is fourth in the nation, averages 32.7 yards per return. It has been awhile since BYU featured a kick return as explosive as Hine, who would be close to leading the nation if a kick return for a touchdown against Utah had not been called back by a penalty or long returns against Virginia and Texas also weren’t negated by yellow flags.
“It has been a surprise,” coach Bronco Mendenhall said about Hine’s emergence as a kick returner. “I thought he would be solid. I didn’t know he would be explosive or able to do what he has done. So it has been a pleasant surprise. A lot of it is also who is blocking for him and how well they are doing.”
Stanford’s Ty Montgomery (37.3) is first in the country, followed by New Mexico’s Carlos Wiggins (33.4) and Darryl Surgent (33.0) of Lousiana-Lafayette. Hine, who missed the Utah State game with a concussion, has 10 returns for 327 yards.
BYU is 10th in the country in kickoff returns, averaging 27.17 yards on 18 returns.
Mendenhall said BYU coaches won’t allow a player, with the exception of the quarterback, to start on offense or defense until he has started on special teams.
“So we have held true to that, and we have better players participating and trying really hard,” he said. “I think that alone, plus the emphasis the coaches are making has really helped.”
More happy returns
BYU received a commitment from Tucson, Ariz., linebacker Matt Bushman on Monday, but that was just the program’s 15th commitment from the class of 2014, and Mendenhall said there won’t likely be many more.
“Between now and next fall we have 31 [missionaries] coming home,” Mendenhall said. “That’s about a quarter of your team. That’s the most in maybe the history of college sports.”
Van Noy honored again
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy was named to the CBSSports.com 2013 Midseason All-America Team on Tuesday, a team voted on by staff and writers from the popular sports website. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior was the only BYU player selected to the first team or second team.
Van Noy, a 2012 All-American, recorded six tackles, including three tackles for loss, and two sacks in the 38-20 win over Georgia Tech. He has 26 career sacks, the second most nationally among active players.
BYU and Houston will be meeting for the first time Saturday. BYU is 6-1 all-time against members of the American Athletic Conference. Its last win over a team now in the AAC was in 2011 against Central Florida. ... With 40 tackles, Van Noy is one of 12 BYU players with 20 or more tackles this season. Linebacker Uani Unga leads the list with 56.
BYU at Houston, 1:30 p.m. MT
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