Provo • There are seven seniors who start on BYU's defense this season, but coach Bronco Mendenhall could find himself replacing eight starters next year when the Cougars face what is being called their most difficult schedule in school history.
That's because junior outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy might opt to forego his senior season and enter April's NFL Draft.
"I haven't decided that yet," Van Noy said. "That will be something that I will have a discussion with my parents about after the final game."
The Lombardi and Nagurski Trophy candidate and midseason All-America Second Team honoree said he can't help but think about turning pro because he is asked about it every day.
"You do look at your options and what is best for you and what is best for your family," Van Noy said. "I want to do what is best for the team, too. I just want to help out any way I can with this team right now, and then focus on myself after the season."
The three other non-senior starters on the defense are sophomore field corner Jordan Johnson, junior strong safety Daniel Sorensen and junior outside linebacker Spencer Hadley. Defensive tackle Eathyn Manumaleuna (knee) and safety Mike Hague (calf muscle tear) are also listed as seniors, but were injured early in the season and will appeal to the NCAA to get the year back.
Van Noy said the cupboard won't be empty, if he stays or not.
"We will always have players that will fill in, and keep moving on and keep getting better. [BYU] will bring in more talent especially with the schedule that kids see. They want to be on the big stage with ESPN. So, it is only going to be a matter of time where we get better and better players here. I am happy to be a part of it. I am happy to put my ink in history here and be a part of this wonderful team that we have, and this defense."
Lots of NFL scouts have visited BYU's practices the past few weeks, most likely to get a first-hand look at defensive end Ziggy Ansah, the 6-foot-6, 270-pound phenom from Ghana who has been playing organized football for only three years.
Mendenhall declined Monday to list other players the scouts might be keeping an eye on.
"A little bit premature. I think I would like to hold off on that until bowl week preparation, something like that. It would be distracting at this point. We still have a lot of work to do," he said.
BYU, Virginia agree to two-game series
BYU and Virginia have agreed to a two-game series, the schools announced Wednesday. BYU will play at Virginia's Scott Stadium on Aug. 31, 2013, and the Cavaliers will travel to Provo for a game on Sept. 20, 2014.
"I really like this series with Virginia," BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said. "It's been more than a decade since we played at Virginia. It should be a great game for BYU fans in that part of the country and will provide a unique travel experience for both teams."
BYU has now announced 11 games on its 2013 schedule. The road schedule includes games at Virginia, Utah State, Houston, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Hawaii. The Cougars will host Texas, Boise State, Utah, Georgia Tech and Middle Tennessee State.
"We feel fortunate that we were able to schedule a series with BYU, a school with a strong football tradition, on such short notice," said Virginia executive associate director of athletics Jon Oliver. "Historically, the games have been very competitive and we look forward to opening the season against them in 2013 in Scott Stadium."
The series was made possible after the Atlantic Coast Conference decided that its member schools would go from a nine-game league schedule to eight games in 2013 and beyond.
Idaho at BYU
P Saturday, 8:15 p.m.
TV • ESPNU