Provo • Of all the amazing feats All-American linebacker Kyle Van Noy has accomplished in his four-year career at BYU, what will happen Saturday might just be the most incredible.
The senior has so much power within the program that he was somehow able to get his last regular-season game scheduled at his hometown of Reno, Nev. The Cougars (7-4) will face Nevada (4-7) at 1 p.m. MST at Mackay Stadium on the field where Van Noy played his final high school game.
OK, Van Noy really didn't have anything to do with the game's scheduling it was added when Hawaii opted out of its series with BYU upon joining the Mountain West Conference but it does illustrate just how magical his college career has been.
It seems like whatever this guy touches turns to gold or touchdowns.
"I am excited to be back at home. I don't get to go there very often," Van Noy said earlier this week. "It will be exciting to be home and have the opportunity to play football gain, and to be able to do it in front of family that can't make it to many games for a variety of reasons."
Van Noy will be remembered as one of the best players in BYU history, perhaps the best defender to ever run out of the home-team tunnel at LaVell Edwards Stadium. His trademark has been his ability to score points, although he's never lined up on the offensive side of the ball after playing receiver at McQueen High School.
Van Noy has scored five defensive touchdowns in his career, a school record, including a pick-six against Utah State this season on the first play of the game and two fourth-quarter TDs last year in the Poinsettia Bowl against San Diego State. To get one in Reno on Saturday would be unimaginably "sweet," he said a few weeks ago, but added: "I'm not letting myself even think about that."
He is thinking about having a big game, however.
"It would mean a lot for me to have a big game back home in Reno because of all the hard work and time that I have put in since I have been there," he said. "To have a chance to have a big game in front of family and friends would be awesome."
Van Noy estimated before BYU's senior day in Provo that around 400 friends and family members will be in Reno to watch him play, mostly from California. Teammates have given him some of their tickets, and his parents purchased a big chunk of seats.
"So we will have our own KVN section, hopefully, at the game," he said.
Van Noy promised a "different defense" than the one that stood up reasonably well to Midwestern powers Wisconsin and Notre Dame the past month, but failed to get critical stops, missed tackles and assignments and forced only a couple of turnovers.
"We are going to have more fun," he said. "I think the guys on the team have been too uptight and I think we're going to have more fun and play with more enthusiasm on defense."
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said he is not focusing on Van Noy's personal homecoming game. Rather, he's concerned himself this week with Nevada's offense, which he said is "very, very similar" to the one that BYU runs with big receivers and an excellent dual-threat quarterback, Cody Fajardo.
Still, he acknowledged that the Kyle Van Noy who led the McQueen Lancers to a 14-0 record and the 2008 4A state championship has matured and grown as much, if not more, than any player he's coached at BYU.
"Kyle has probably had more attention and more praise and more spotlight than any other player," Mendenhall said. "I can't say in BYU history, but he would have to be top five. He's featured on billboards, in magazines and books.
"So if you think about that for a young person or any person and then to stay grounded, stable, consistent and continue to learn and grow and be teachable along the way; it's quite a challenge. He's had to do all that besides just being a BYU student."
A closer look
Kyle Van Noy's 2013 honors:
• Semifinalist for Bednarik, Butkus, Lombardi, Lott awards
• Finalist for Senior CLASS Award
• Midseason All-American from Yahoo!, Phil Steele, SportsIllustrated.com, CBSSports.com
• Second in CBSSports.com midseason voting for Defensive Player of the Year BYU at Nevada
O Saturday, 1 p.m.
TV • CBS College Sports