When asked how he's personally progressed from last season to this year, Kyle Van Noy said the first word that came to his mind was “humbled.”
"That might kind of shock you, but it's humbling because we went through so much last year,” Van Noy said. “I had to learn so many things and it's been a humbling experience. Every time I step on the field now, I'm comfortable. This is my playground now and this is what I do, and I do it with my friends, so it makes it that much more fun. It's been a humbling experience and it's only going to get more humbling."
BYU coaches take a different approach with players like Van Noy that are in possession of greater athletic ability. Rather than place outward attention on the athletic part of their game, they direct their language constantly towards the intellectual part.
“Coaches, they don't really say I have a lot of athleticism,” said Van Noy. “They say I'm smart, so when I'm taking the smart approach and thinking of that the whole time, that helps me with my technique and all that stuff. Then all of my athleticism comes with it."
During practice on Monday, Van Noy put his athleticism to use and chased down wide receiver Ross Apo from behind. Apo turned around with a surprised kind of look on his face, as if to say, “Man, who got me?’
It didn't take long before Apo and Van Noy began a friendly session of trash-talking as Apo lined up on the field side where Van Noy was standing on the edge.
"It was pretty funny because [Apo] was saying stuff," said Van Noy with a laugh in his voice. "It was a lot of fun out there."
It's evident that Van Noy and Apo have a lot of fun competing against one another.
"Oh, Ross is a freak," said Van Noy with a grin. "So is Jake [Heaps], his partner in crime. They're going to give people a lot of problems. It's kind of scary. The whole offense is going to give people problems. It's kind of scary and will be a lot of fun to watch because I know what's coming."
Another receiver Van Noy has a lot of respect for is Cody Hoffman. With another year of experience under his belt, Hoffman is going to be a force to be reckoned with this upcoming season. When he and Apo are lined up on one side of the field, it spells trouble for defenses. In fact, Van Noy has a nickname for the two receivers.
"I call them ‘Day-Day’ and ‘Craig’ from the movie ‘Friday After Next,’” Van Noy said with a laugh. "So Day-Day is Cody and Ross is Craig. With those two on the side, it's just a lot of mischief and dangerous when those guys are running streaks, and if you just throw it up, one of them is going to get it. I mean, it's scary. It's going to be cool to see Day-Day and Craig – I mean Cody and Ross – playing together out there. It's going to be cool this season and it's great to have good friends on the team that are really good too."
But it's not all about football and fun competition between close friends. Prior to coming to BYU, Van Noy had to overcome some personal issues and sit out a year before he could enroll.
In the 2009 signing day press conference for BYU, Coach Mendenhall read a statement written by Van Noy concerning some trouble he got into. Last Sunday, it was Van Noy himself that read a talk he wrote for a fireside with Coach Mendenhall.
"I'm more spiritual in private, and so to do that was a little different,” said Van Noy. “It wasn't hard and it was fun and I actually enjoyed it."
During the fireside, questions are often asked to the players.
"The last question I got was from a lady, and I'll never forget this – she was just balling her eyes out. She asked, 'What made you want to change your life?' She was just balling her eyes out. I said, ‘The Church and seeing my mom's face. Seeing how much she hurt and the look on her face was really hard for me.’
"I also told her being around players with the same standards and me wanting eternal happiness, and that's all I want. I just want to be happy forever."
Following the fireside, Van Noy saw a look on the faces of many mothers and fathers that moved him in a profound way.
"I've never had so many moms crying to me after that," Van Noy reverently said. “It was a really cool and humbling experience. I had little kids come up to me and say, 'Thank you for speaking to me.' I had dads come up to me too and saying, ‘Thank you.’ It was just a really cool experience and it's why I'm here at BYU. I wouldn't be playing football without the Church in my life. That's the reason why I'm here, so I have to give back because I've been given so much."
From the look in his eyes, it was easier to see how the molding process has taken place in Van Noy's heart. He now understands the bigger picture.
"With the gifts that I have and with the talents that I have, I can be a good example and help others,” said Van Noy. “So there's that part, and then there's the part in the scriptures where it talks about the parable of the talents – taking your talents and increasing them from one to two, then four, and so on to ten talents. I’m just trying to make the best of all my talents and I'm finally seeing that. I have a talent of helping people by showing them of my struggles in the past and how I turned my life around. I'm willing to share that with people and give the message that one mistake is not going to make you. You can fix that and be a better person."
In fact, Van Noy has taken his talents to the community level in an effort to continue growing personally while helping youth grow as well. While he may laugh at the unpredictable wiles of Craig and Day-Day in the movie ‘Friday After Next,’ Van Noy takes a more giving and heartfelt approach to how he spends his time on Fridays.
"I love helping out the community, and I have sixth graders every Friday and it's fun," Van Noy said. "I go to the sixth grade elementary school up in Orem. I don't have school on Friday, so I go up there and hang out with them all day, and I play kickball and help them with their schoolwork all day. It's a lot of fun and I love it."