By Chris Boline

BYU All-American linebacker Kyle Van Noy is many things, but to me he will always be one person: an enigma.

His return to Mackay Stadium for the first time since McQueen High School won the state championship in 2008 will be the biggest storyline in the season finale for Brian Polian’s squad. However, while Van Noy has been getting drooled over by NFL scouts for his incredible measurables — he stands at six-foot-three, 245 pounds and has been athletic enough to play four sports in high school — he is not without a checkered past. This is a man that came out of the same elementary school as me and, in many ways, when Nevada and BYU square off, it will be a homecoming and a very nostalgic moment for numerous members in the crowd, including myself.

Growing up in northwest Reno

I will always remember how terrified I was to play football against my friend’s other brother and his group of guys, one of whom happened to be Kyle Van Noy. Even at Peavine Elementary School, he was a terror on that unforgiving dirt field they called a playground.

Once, in the side yard of my buddy’s house, I remember him tossing one of my smaller friends into a bush just because he could (and also because it was hilarious). There is another story of him pushing over a classmate’s little sister while she was riding her bicycle, and said classmate went on to play with Van Noy at McQueen and now is playing at the University of Oregon.

You knew that when you had the option to play two-hand touch as opposed to tackle, you would always pick the former if Van Noy was involved (although you would always get overruled by the older guys and subsequently get your teeth kicked down your throat).

As elementary school came to a close, Van Noy moved to Billinghurst Middle School in the northwest part of town and became a wrecking ball for his Pop Warner team — the Wolf Pack.

Current Nevada student Mitch Meranda played with Van Noy on the Pack and also on numerous little league baseball teams. He remembers a different kid than the one seen all over ESPN and Sports Illustrated today.

“Kyle was really funny, just a comedic type of guy,” Meranda said. “He’s just like the rest of the guys that we grew up with. But, he was such a special athlete that in high school, my coach (Dan Avansino) made me play him on scout team, and we never did that for anyone.”

Legend of the Lancers

As mentioned before, Van Noy went on to McQueen High School also in northwest Reno, where he starred for the Lancers under legendary coach Ken Dalton. In his final two seasons he was named all-state for the Lancers and played both ways at wide receiver and outside linebacker.

Van Noy destroyed teams in those final two seasons: he racked up 34 tackles for loss, 21 sacks, 1,536 receiving yards and 31 total touchdowns.

Former Nevada state player of the year, Tyler York, played with Van Noy and the Lancers all four years, and showed that he was all business in the locker room and on the field.

“Kyle always set the tone on the field, showed a lot of emotion,” York said. “I remember always feeding off his energy on the field. In the locker room we all pretty much kept to ourselves. Kyle didn’t say much, we’d look each other in the eyes and knew what we had to do.”

I’ve heard stories of Van Noy barking at opposing players on the offense, and because McQueen was so dominant, he could get away with all of this. However, this caught up to him in the form of a DUI his senior year and other problems with the drinking culture that usually accompanies high-profile football players.

Although he has had his fair share of issues, former Wolf Pack kicker and “Blue Friday” legend Anthony Martinez has seen Van Noy grow up immensely since their days at the home of the Lancers.

“He’s crazy,” Martinez said jokingly. “But seriously, he’s just a real genuine guy, and while he has had some off-field troubles, he has just has worked his ass off to put it behind him. Now he’s become the man you see today.”

He has straightened out, thanks to Bronco Mendenhall and the rest of the BYU coaching staff, and I believe that is for the best.  Growing up in the “Biggest Little City,” I always wondered why our town never had a star to hang its hat on. Who knew that this guy would be one that numerous current students at the university played against in high school or one that was so close to home?

Van Noy probably doesn’t remember who I am, but I will never forget the time in high school that he was being escorted to a bedroom upstairs by a lady friend of his, and he gave me the weirdest look as I noticed him walk up the stairs.

“What you looking at, Chris Boline?” he said with the most Joker-esque smile.

For better or worse, Kyle, I was looking at you, and on Nov. 30 and beyond, we’re all going to be looking at you.

Chris Boline can be reached at cboline@