Kyle Van Noy returns an interception against Notre Dame.
Kyle Van Noy is heading into this season as one of the most-hyped Cougars in recent memory, coming off a transcendent performance in the 2012 Poinsettia Bowl. The All-American linebacker filled stat sheets with 8 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, an interception, a blocked punt and two touchdowns.
If that's not impressive enough, he scored both of his touchdowns and made most of his biggest plays in the fourth quarter.
The bowl against San Diego State wasn't the only time he tore up an offense. Although there wasn't another game as dominant as that one, he was making big plays all year. Van Noy was tied for second in the nation in solo sacks and forced fumbles, and is the only player in college football to record at least one stat in every major statistical category for the last two seasons.
But what makes the Reno, Nevada native such a threatening player?
Van Noy's posture has a lot to do with it. Stats may look flashy on paper, but you can't overemphasize how important it is to have good form. A linebacker should always have his shoulders squared to his target, with his head up and feet moving. Van Noy does this well, and his forced fumble in the Poinsettia Bowl displayed it perfectly.
On the snap, he lunged forward with his shoulders squared and head up. Despite contact with the lineman, he kept his posture.
To get through the line, Van Noy used a swim move and excelled past the lineman.
At that point, it was only a matter of speed and coordination to get to the quarterback for the strip.
His posture isn't the only thing that makes Van Noy a threat; his speed and athleticism are also worth noting. He ran a 4.67 40-yard dash, and was a track athlete at McQueen High School. One of the most outstanding aspects of his game is his ability to use his athleticism to come off of the outside on a pass rush.
But the final weapon in Van Noy's arsenal that is most intimidating is his knowledge of the game. He is a linebacker that can read quarterbacks like a cornerback. In addition to his athleticism, his ability to read offensive sets gives Van Noy a huge advantage over his peers.
Van Noy has the size and speed to take receivers or tight ends in man coverage, as he did in the Notre Dame game. In the second quarter, Van Noy lined up against Irish tight end Tyler Eifert.
As soon as he looked up and saw quarterback Tommy Rees dropping back to pass, he slid into pass coverage.
He stepped up when the ball was passed, and, after it was tipped into the air, Van Noy had the position to catch it and gain minimal yardage.
Van Noy is a nightmare for any offense that opposes him, and although he will lose Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah on the line and Brandon Ogletree as a fellow linebacker, the BYU defense should still be strong this year.
He has the tools to be a first-round draft pick, and if he continues to impress people across the country with a big season in 2013, a bright future could be ahead for Van Noy.