By Kenny Cox
DALLAS, Texas (December 30, 2011) – Following BYU’s 24-21 comeback victory in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Cougar fans have to be excited all three of BYU’s biggest playmakers are returning for the 2012 season.
“I still believe the reason we have success at BYU is the people I’m able to surround myself with and that’s players and coaches,” head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “While we still have room to grow and improve, and we can look forward to that, the future looks bright.”
Quarterback Riley Nelson, a junior, wide receiver Cody Hoffman and linebacker Kyle Van Noy, both sophomores,l were huge factors all year and made the plays necessary for the Cougars to win in the bowl game.
“When it comes down to it and (Nelson) needed to make plays, he helped our team win,” Mendenhall said. “That’s the resolve, that determine, is how all these guys train. It’s what we ask, what we expect and it’s fun to see.”
With all three coming back for the 2012 campaign, BYU looks to be in good shape. The Logan, Utah product finished the year completing 116 of 202 passes for 1,717 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions for a quarterback rating of 163.6, good for the seventh-best mark in BYU history for a single season. Nelson also added 392 rushing yards and one touchdown. The dual-threat quarterback will return for a senior season as a proven leader and signal caller.
Hoffman put together arguably the best season ever by a kick returner and one of the best as an all-purpose threat. Coming out of the small town of Crescent City, Calif., Hoffman set single-season records with 36 kick returns for 879 yards. He also took one kick 93 yards back for a touchdown. As a receiver, Hoffman was BYU’s go-to guy with a career and team-high 61 catches for 943 yards and 10 touchdowns. In two career-bowl games, Hoffman has 16 catches, 259 yards and six touchdowns to go along with eight kick returns for 166 yards.
For his career, he now has 103 catches for 1,470 yards and 17 touchdowns to go along with 50 kick returns for 1,259 yards and one touchdown. Hoffman is one of only two players at BYU to have over 1,000 career receiving yards and 1,000 career kick return yards.
Van Noy will return as a leader on a stout BYU defense that came into the bowl game No. 16 in the nation in total defense. From Reno, Nev., Van Noy was all over the field in 2011, becoming the only player in the country to record a stat in the following categories: tackles, tackle for loss, sack, pass breakup, interception, quarterback hurry, forced fumble, fumble recovery, punt block and recovery and defensive touchdown.
He finished 2011 with 68 tackles (50 solo), 15 tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hurries, seven sacks, three interceptions, three pass breakups, three forces fumbles, one fumble recovery, one punt block and one touchdown.
“If you look with Cody and Kyle, these two have grown and matured a lot and have continued to produce on the field new and better ways each time we play. That is a great sign for our future.”