The Lions drafted BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy in the second round, 40th overall, in the 2014 draft. (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)
When Kyle Van Noy was growing up, his parents didn’t just let him sit around before his football games.
“I would do chores before any game I would play on Saturdays,” he said. “So if we had an 8 o’clock, I would do chores in the morning before, from mowing the lawn to laundry to vacuum to anything.”
By the time he arrived at BYU in 2009, Van Noy already knew the importance of living a structured life outside of football.
“I’ve always been dedicated to sports,” said Van Noy, 23. “But that really helped me out for the dedication part because sacrificing sleep and all that to do chores to play a game helped out a bunch.”
At 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds, and with great football instincts, Van Noy was a sure bet to go on the second day of the NFL draft this year, and that hard work and dedication may have helped the Lions decide to trade up five spots in the second round to select him 40th overall.
And this season, the Lions hope Van Noy can be a productive player from the start. General manager Martin Mayhew, immediately after the draft, pegged him as a starter, presumably at strongside linebacker.
Van Noy’s enthusiasm came from his father, Layne, he said. His dad worked in a management position at a local parks and recreation department while he was growing up in Reno, Nev., which was part of the reason Van Noy started playing flag football at age 5 with the 8-year-olds.
“He said the boss has to do what everyone else does,” Van Noy said of his father. “He was working an hour earlier than everybody else and he stayed an hour late, and that’s just how he’s been. So I took it upon myself to do the same thing.”
And wherever Van Noy has gone, it didn’t take long for his hard work to be noticed. Before the NFL combine in February, Van Noy training at UC-Irvine with Proactive Sports Performance alongside other 2014 draft picks including Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, USC receiver Marqise Lee and Minnesota defensive tackle Rashede Hageman and safety Brock Vereen. Arkansas guard Travis Swanson, the Lions’ third-round pick, was there, too.
During the training sessions, Vereen, a fourth-round pick by the Chicago Bears, said Van Noy was someone to whom the other prospects naturally gravitated.
“He’s definitely funny, but a hard worker,” Vereen said. “I mean, driven. I would be on my side of the field doing DB drills, and I’d hear him 100 yards away doing his thing. He’s going to be a heck of a player.”
Van Noy said he formed such a close bond with his training partners that he paid close attention to where they were all drafted in May.
“You just end up kind of like a family,” he said. “We’re with each other all day, every day training three times a day, so you get to know them and you become real close with them. And when you watch the draft, you weren’t just watching it for yourself.”
And in Detroit, Van Noy isn’t just focused on his own game.
Rookie cornerback Nevin Lawson, a fourth-round pick from Utah State, said Van Noy has helped him learn some aspects of the playbook.
“I’m going to help anybody out,” Van Noy said. “From an undrafted guy to a veteran, if I can help him out, I’ll say something. But I’m going to do it in a respectful way (in a private setting).”