I’m just so happy for him. The move to New England came at the right time and has been a blessing for him. – Paul Tidwell
When Kyle Van Noy steps on the field as a New England Patriot linebacker for Super Bowl LI, he’ll carry pieces of others with him, including the BYU coach who recruited him from Reno and teammates who sweated and took on bruises alongside him in Provo.
Van Noy, a refugee from Detroit where the Lions struggled to make him fit, has turned into a playmaking machine for the Patriots. His forced fumble in the last playoff game rocketed him to the Pats’ top defensive point earner that week.
In Boston, Van Noy has returned to the role of the instinctive wrecking ball he was at BYU. Who can forget his end zone forced fumble, recovery, TD and pick six score against San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl victory that remains one of the top Cougar efforts of all time. Against Ole Miss in Oxford, his forced fumble and score led to a win.
That is vintage Van Noy.
Van Noy’s intensity, volatility, skill, acumen and sense of humor have all been absorbed into the Patriot machine. Now comes the kickoff to the event of a lifetime.
Paul Tidwell began recruiting Van Noy when he was a sophomore in high school. “He’s a unique young man with a unique story,” said Tidwell.
“I’m just so happy for him. The move to New England came at the right time and has been a blessing for him. I’m so happy for him and his wife and family. He’s already succeeded and will flourish in that environment. We are all really happy for him.”
Van Noy’s ability to make plays for the Patriots is no mystery. “First of all, he’s very talented,” said Tidwell. “He’s very athletic, but on top of that he’s really smart. He has a very high football IQ and he puts himself in position to be around the football.
“When it came time, often in crunch time, time after time after time, Kyle came up with a sack, caused a fumble, grabbed an interception. When it came time for us to get a big play, it seemed like he took it to another gear, got in a different mode and thought process.”
Tidwell remembers that Poinsettia Bowl when the Aztecs were up 6-3 with 10 minutes left in the game. Van Noy was yelling to his defensive teammates, “If the offense isn’t going to win this, we have to win it. The defense has to win this.”
In a matter of minutes, Van Noy scored two touchdowns on two plays. “It was amazing. He was yelling for his teammates to get them up, but he was the one who got it done on three amazing, stunning, game-changing plays.”
When Van Noy was just 16, Tidwell remembers him as a polite, friendly young man and when other schools began recruiting him, his confidence grew. “But when he committed to BYU, he never wavered in his decision.”
Tidwell remembers Van Noy calling him a few days before signing day and telling him he was on a last-minute recruiting trip to Cal. “I was stunned. I thought, ‘oh, crap,’ and I didn’t know what to say,” said the coach. “Hey, you’re committed to BYU,” Tidwell finally said.
Van Noy paused, let the silence sit in the cellular universe for a few seconds.
“I got you, coach,” said Van Noy. “I’m not there with coaches or on a recruiting trip, I’m just hanging out with friends.”
“Kyle has a great sense of humor. He’s always joking and making you laugh. He is loyal and respectful to me. His nickname for coach Bronco Mendenhall was 'Bishop.' He'd call and ask how the Bishop was doing.”
Tidwell credits some of Van Noy’s older teammates, Brandon Ogletree, Uani Kavinga and Spencer Hadley, for taking the younger star under their wings and helping him along at BYU.
“They were so strong personality wise and had been through the program at BYU. They were mature football players and kept Kyle grounded. They became very close to Kyle. He could be kind of cantankerous at times, kind of hard to get along with sometimes. And those guys, and others, were so good for Kyle in helping him mature and become the player he was and is.”
On Friday, Ogletree, who now works for Vivint and lives in Orem, said the hearts of Van Noy’s former teammates will be with him at the Super Bowl.
“When Kyle told me he’d been traded to New England, I was super excited for him,” said Ogletree. “I knew it was a system that would utilize him and put him in a position like he was in at BYU. It’s been cool to see him be successful from a distance.”
Ogeltree said he’s jealous of Van Noy, that he’s able to step on this giant stage in Houston where billions of viewers will witness the Super Bowl.
“For all of us, if you play football, this is what you dream of. In all of football, only a hundred players a year get to play in the Super Bowl each year. It is a phenomenal opportunity for him, and I am excited for him.”
Ogletree said what makes Van Noy so good is he isn’t afraid to take chances. “When he was in Detroit, that’s kind of a system he wasn’t comfortable with and he let that feeling go. In New England, it’s more suited to his skills and that’s what you’re seeing, him taking those chances, to stop thinking and just play football. That’s what he’s good at.”
Once again, his guys will have his back from afar come Sunday.