By Nate Slack
The question lurking deep in the hearts and minds of Cougar fans everywhere the past year regarding Kyle Van Noy and Cody Hoffman is the decision they will both be making at the end of this season–whether or not they will return to BYU for one more year. Over the years, BYU has had their fair share of players stay, as well as a handful of players that have decided to forgo their final season in Provo. Let’s break a few of those down.
In 2001, Heisman hopeful, All-American, and Doak Walker Award winner Luke Staley had the same choice to make. After starting the season 12-0, BYU suffered a monstrous blow as Staley went down near the end of the Mississippi State game. The regular season finale came the following week at Hawaii and BYU would be without their biggest threat, Luke Staley. That week, BYU suffered a humbling 72-45 defeat which crushed the perfect season and any shot at being the first non-AQ team to bust the BCS. With Senior QB Brandon Doman graduating, Staley would be forced to carry the offensive load on his own heading into the 2002 season. With nothing left to prove, Staley took a chance and declared for the upcoming NFL draft. Good idea? Possibly, but he suffered a knee injury in training camp of his rookie season that required in season ending surgery. He returned the following season to training camp but was cut from the Detroit Lions.
Next stop comes in 2008. All-American WR Austin Collie who ultimately dominated the NCAA in receiving his junior season decided he may be better off advancing to the NFL instead of hanging around one more year with Max Hall, McKay Jacobsen, and Dennis Pitta. In 2008, Collie was ranked 1st nationally in receiving yards per game, total yards receiving, and consecutive 100-yard receiving games. He was also ranked in the top 4 nationally in receiving yards per catch, total receptions, and touchdown receptions. Collie’s rookie season in Indianapolis was incredible and many feel he should’ve won Rookie of the Year. He also had the numbers to support that claim. The seasons since have not been quite as friendly. He’s suffered concussion after concussion and most recently ended his 2012-2013 campaign with a torn patellar tendon in his knee.
My final example is James Fredette. Yep, The Jimmer. BYU had an impressive season Jimmer’s junior year in 2009-2010 and made the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 17 years. Jimmer had 37 points in a double overtime win over Florida in the first round of the tournament and many people figured this would be his final run in March for the Cougars. Jimmer felt that the mono he had suffered through majority of the season kept him from having the season he may have had if he was healthy. He decided to return for his senior season and that’s where Jimmermania took off. Some got tired of it while many others embraced it. Jimmer ended up breaking many records at BYU and became a national hero, role model, and verb. Because Jimmer elected to stay his senior season, BYU advanced to the Sweet 16, won the Mountain West Conference championship, and defeated a top-10 San Diego State team in Provo and San Diego. Jimmer helped put BYU in a great spot to win a national championship if things hadn’t quite hit a brick wall like they did the Monday following the big victory in San Diego.
Now the question grows. Fans will argue about it and the media will have their remarks as to whether or not they believe Kyle Van Noy or Hoffman will stay. Will the Poinsettia Bowl be the last chance BYU fans have to see them in blue? Many argue Hoffman will come back because of a passing attack that is bound to be stronger next season. Van Noy on the other hand? With key leaders on the defense like Ogletree, Ansah, Kaveinga, and Preston Hadley leaving, I’m not sure if it would be worth passing up millions of dollars he would be making. Let’s just say I’m glad I’m not the one having to make that decision.