Members of the Utah Utes football team trot down the stairs of their practice facility and look off camera before answering the hot-take questions of the day: “Best and worst singer on the team” and “Favorite Gatorade flavor.”
One by one, Utes players grab the tiny microphone and answer the question, laughing and taking jabs at each other along the way. The videos appear on the team’s official Twitter, Instagram and TikTok accounts, and are among thousands and thousands in a trend that become popular among Gen Z.
Sophomore kicker Jordan Noyes is a full participant in these videos. For instance, he nominated sophomore long snapper JT Greep as the worst singer and vouched for the Strawberry Kiwi flavor of Gatorade.
But something about the trend rubs Noyes the wrong way.
“I get it because it brings the fans closer, but I don’t know,” Noyes said. “It makes me feel old.”
The internet trend du jour isn’t the only thing that makes Noyes feel old. He feels it when he hears his teammates talk about their nights on the town. He feels it when he’s extra sore after workouts. He feels it when his teammates playfully call him “ancient.”
Noyes is 30 with a wife and three children, and by far the oldest player on the Utes. In fact, he is the second oldest player in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision. Only Oklahoma State punter Tom Hutton is older at 32.
College athletes in Utah tend to skew older because many of them go on two-year missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints right after high school. The Utes have several players that fit that description.
But Noyes is not one of them. He found football — or American football, as the England native calls it — later in life after Ute kicker Matt Gay suggested he try out for the team.
Gay is married to Noyes’s cousin. The story goes that Noyes and Gay were playing five-a-side soccer one day and Gay noticed Noyes and he had similar ways of kicking.
A few months later, Gay reached out Noyes and said he should try kicking for the Utes. So Noyes practiced on any rugby field he could find, discovering and adjusting to the “robotic” nature of kicking in American football. He sent film to Gay and worked on any feedback he received.
Noyes eventually sent some film to assistant coach Colton Swan. The team flew him out for a camp and later offered him a walk-on spot on the team. He joined in 2020 and became the starting kicker this year. He was 5 of 5 on field goals and 21 for 21 on PATs heading into the weekend’s matchup with Oregon State.
“Where he didn’t have a lot of football training, he’s worked hard and got his technique dialed in right now,” coach Kyle Whittingham said. “He is much more smooth and fundamentally sound now than when we got him a couple of years back. He’s worked hard at that.”
Noyes grew up playing soccer — naturally, he calls it football — and rugby all his life. He had watched some NFL games on TV, but could not keep up regularly due to the time difference. He also attended one of the first NFL games to be played in London’s Wembley Stadium.
But actually playing football was never even a thought until Gay mentioned it. Noyes had the makings of a career in finance back in his hometown of Dartford, Kent, working with his dad doing life insurance and mortgages.
Although Noyes was enjoying working in finance, he longed for a career somewhere in sports. He felt he could be at least somewhat successful as a kicker.
“[Gay] told me it was going to be tough, but I felt like I was ready to give it a go and had the full backing from my wife and family back home,” Noyes said. “So I jumped at it as I saw it as also a huge opportunity, especially if I make it to the next level.”
Now Noyes has eyes on getting to the NFL. It’s a new dream of his that has developed over time. And, he feels his age could actually be a positive if he gets to that level.
“With that age, you get wiser, don’t you, and you become a bit more in tune with things,” Noyes said. “And if you’re young, sometimes you can get affected maybe by missing a kick or whatever.”
Noyes said Whittingham has told him many NFL kickers can play well into their 30s. Just last year, former New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri retired at the age of 48.
The Utes as a whole benefit from Noyes’ age. Holder Michael Williams said he has gone to Noyes for advice on what classes to take in school and considers him a role model for his younger teammates. Tight end Brant Kuithe said there will be plenty to learn from Noyes when he has children of his own.
But it’s clear everyone gets a kick of out making fun of Noyes for his age. Greep said some of the younger specialists on the team performed a skit earlier in the season for an event called the Rookie Show where they made Noyes the Guinness Book of World Records holder for “Oldest College Football Player.” Williams said Noyes is often referred to as the “dad of the group.”
Sophomore wide receiver Devaughn Vele gets an especially fun kick out of Noyes’ age.
“I’m on the older spectrum, so it’s nice having a guy older than me so I can make fun of him like the younger guys make fun of me,” Vele said.
While Noyes isn’t getting any younger, he is in on the joke. Not only that: Being around guys much younger than him keeps him young in some ways.
“As a male, we’re all 10-year-olds, aren’t we really?” Noyes said. “I fit right in because I can be immature like most men, which I guess helps. I mean, I don’t feel old, which is a good thing, I guess.”
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