PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - After one of the most spectacular defensive performances you'll ever see in a bowl game, linebacker Kyle Van Noy could have easily turned pro and made a ton of money as a high round NFL draft choice.
But Van Noy wanted to finish what he started at BYU, and decided to return to school for his senior season.
"I wanted to graduate, have a senior year and enjoy the college experience," said Van Noy, who scored two touchdowns in the Poinsettia Bowl against San Diego State. "I don't want to have any regrets down the road. So, I wanted to finish school, get it out of the way, and look back in ten years and say I graduated."
Van Noy racked up 13 sacks, 22 tackles for loss and two interceptions, earning 3rd team All-American honors as a junior. He was projected to go as high as the second or third round in the NFL draft, but he says people underestimate the value of the college experience.
"I don't think people realize the behind the scenes situation," Van Noy said. "I kind of took the pros and cons and I had to make a hard decision. Ultimately, I picked to stay and I think I made the right choice."
Wide receiver Cody Hoffman also had an incredible junior season, catching 100 passes for 1,248 yards and 11 touchdowns. But while Hoffman also wanted to obtain his degree, he wanted to improve as a player before turning pro.
"There's always a chance to get better," Hoffman said. "I can practice my skills one more year and get one more year to become NFL ready. I know this coaching staff will get me to where I need to be for the next level."
Hoffman also wasn't satisfied with last year's 9-4 season and wants to help the Cougars try to get back to a major bowl game.
"That influenced my decision, just knowing that our offense is returning a lot of skill positions," he said. "All the receivers are back, all the running backs are back, and we have a quarterback that has started some games for us last year that has the potential to help us win."
Hoffman and Van Noy are both good friends and were happy when they heard about each others decisions.
"It's cool to still have a kid like him that's not only a good player, but also your friend," said Van Noy.
"We're really close," added Hoffman. "He told me before he told anybody else, so I knew he was coming back. Once I told him that I was coming back, I think might have helped him choose what he wanted to do."
Hoffman is being held out of spring practice because of off-season shoulder surgery, but he expects to be at full strength when training camp rolls around in August.
Coaches are being cautious with Van Noy, holding him out of live contact during the spring.
"I think the coaches want to see me be more of a leader," Van Noy said. "I'm still doing the drills and I'm still participating a lot. I think it's helping out the younger guys to get better."
Staying in school does present some risks. Hoffman and Van Noy could suffer injuries that hurt their draft prospects or their production could decrease. But they say helping BYU get back to national prominence is worth the risks.
"There's always risks to everything," Van Noy said. "There are risks to getting injured or not performing. But I think if you put on tape what you're capable of doing, you'll be fine."
There were many reasons why Hoffman and Van Noy decided to return to school, but sophomore running back Jamaal Williams believes he knows the main reason.
"They love me too much to leave," Williams said. "So, they came back for me. It's because I'm so adorable."
"He is adorable for how young he is," Van Noy said with a smile. "But that's not the reason why I came back."
Whatever the reason, BYU fans are thrilled both Van Noy and Hoffman decided to come back to Provo.