BYU Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy has not declared for the 2013 NFL draft, but he may want to consider his options after his brilliant performance in Thursday's Poinsettia Bowl.
In the Cougars' 23-6 victory over San Diego State, Van Noy emerged as the unquestioned star. With his team down by three points going into the fourth quarter, the BYU linebacker went into a scoring overdrive.
Yes, I said scoring.
A beautiful play on the ball stripped Aztecs quarterback Adam Dingwell in the end zone, where Van Noy grabbed the ball for the first touchdown of the game. To use a little bit of baseball lingo, that was a triple-play (sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery) for Van Noy.
However, that wasn't the only time Van Noy would make Dingwell's life a nightmare on Thursday.
With the momentum firmly in his team's grasp, Van Noy took advantage of a poor decision from Dingwell, made an interception and returned it to the house for his second score of the night.
All told, Van Noy's monster night ended with him recording eight tackles and 1.5 sacks to go along with the interception and fumble combo meal. After the game, Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel couldn't help but note that Van Noy probably just made himself some NFL cash with his performance:
Been on the Kyle Van Noy bandwagon since covering BYU's opener vs. Wazzu, but wow, what a monster performance tonight. Making some $$$.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) December 21, 2012
As those who watched the Cougars this season know, this great bowl performance is nothing new for the junior linebacker. A scintillating playmaker, Van Noy made a habit of breaking into the opposing team's backfield throughout 2012.
Heading into Thursday night's game, he had 11.5 sacks on the season, which was tied for 10th in the nation. Van Noy also had five forced fumbles (fourth-best in the FBS), and 18.5 tackles for a loss on the season (good for 11th).
Listed at 6'3" and 235 pounds, Van Noy is an explosive edge rusher who would project well as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the pros. He's also no slouch against the run either, giving him the type of versatility that NFL coaches are looking for in a prospect.
Nevertheless, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. One game doesn't suddenly take away the questions about Van Noy we had prior to Thursday's game.
He's still a little undersized for NFL competition and will have to add about 20 pounds of muscle between now and next September. Remember, while they still played three ranked teams this season, BYU's schedule didn't exactly put him against the Joe Thomases of the world every week.
If Van Noy declares and is able to halt all of those questions at the combine, there's little reason to think that his draft stock will stop soaring.
A solid prospect coming into the bowl season, Van Noy's fantastic Poinsettia Bowl performance put him in a position to certainly be taken inside the first couple of rounds.