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BYU's Kyle Van Noy sticks up for Miss Utah after her fumbled pageant answer

PROVO — BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who previously dated Miss Utah, Marissa Powell, says Powell may have struggled to find the right words during the Miss USA pageant two weeks ago. But according to the All-American, his friend's performance does nothing to take away from the fact that she is a smart, kind and tremendous human being.

Van Noy has forged a friendship with Powell and her family for more than a year. The Cougar senior linebacker was a main attraction Wednesday during the BYU football team's media day on campus.

Powell made national headlines and received sharp criticism for her stumbling, sometimes rambling answer when put on the spot a few weeks ago after a judge asked: “A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?”

The question caught Powell off guard.

Van Noy, now a veteran of media interviews, understands how that can happen. Since the Miss USA pageant, Powell has had many chances to explain her views on the issue. Van Noy says she’s even had job opportunities and doors opened to her that wouldn't have otherwise happened.

The Powell question wasn’t one Van Noy expected when the Deseret News approached him for a comment at BYU’s football media day Wednesday at the BYU Broadcast Center.

“She has been a very big influence in my life and I was able to be there for her in a time of need. That’s kind of why I got off social media because of the criticism she took and not being able to stick up for her. When you see a friend you know very well and you know she is a 4.0 student and you know she is one of the smarter than smart and you see her fumble like that on a national scale was hard. I think she has had more supporters now than people who have criticized her.”

Van Noy said the experience will prepare her more for the future and for her life in business. “She will be happy in the end. She is awesome. You couldn’t ask for a sweeter, nicer, more genuine girl.”

Van Noy found himself in the spotlight Wednesday, meeting with local and national pundits from across the country at BYU's football event. Van Noy outlined his own challenges in sitting out a year before enrolling at BYU out of high school in Reno, Nev., and his decision to return to BYU for his senior year rather than put his name in for the NFL draft.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at