Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports (Kyle Van Noy} Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images (Fred Warner) Jason Miller Getty Images (Sione Takitaki)
by Rick Istvan | As a BYU fan, when you watch football on Sundays you may recognize a few familiar faces: Fred Warner (49ers), Kyle Van Noy (Dolphins), and Sione Takitaki (Browns.) All of these Cougars alumni are currently starting linebackers in the NFL.
Is it drafty in here?
Almost every college player who plays on Saturday has one goal in mind: play on Sunday. According to the NCAA website, they estimated that only 3.8 percent of draft-eligible Division I players were chosen in the 2019 NFL draft. To show this in a more straight-up way, out of 6,490 players only 249 were actually drafted. To go a little deeper, all of those 249 players aren’t guaranteed a roster spot. There are also free agents and a handful of other possible options. The point is that skill is more important than your conference.
While at BYU, Fred Warner finished his college career with some impressive stats. Warner would play 49 games for the Cougars. Of those 49 games, Warner would start 42. Warner had 155 solo tackles, 105 assisted tackles, 6.5 sacks, one quarterback hit, seven interceptions, two of which were pick-sixes, and five fumble recoveries. Warner also earned both BYU’s Most Valuable Player Award and Captain’s Award in 2018. In the 2019 NFL draft, with the 70th pick, the San Francisco 49ers would select Fred Warner. In 2019, Warner started all 16 games at inside linebacker for the Niners. Warner ended that season with one interception which he would return for a touchdown. He also rallied three sacks, 118 total tackles, seven tackles for a loss, and three quarterback hurries. Warner has definitely made the Cougars proud.
While playing football for BYU, Van Noy was unquestionably annoying to offensive coordinators everywhere. During his time as a Cougar, Van Noy’s stats were impressive. In 52 games, Van Noy tallied 149 solo tackles, and 70 assisted tackles for a total of 219 tackles. Kyle also had 61.5 tackles for a loss, 32 QB hurries and 27 sacks. If that wasn’t enough, Van Noy would also have seven interceptions returning two for touchdowns. Interceptions weren’t the only turnovers he would create. Van Noy would have five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and he would return three of those for a touchdown. Van Noy had an extensive list of recognitions at BYU. The Detroit Lions would draft Van Noy in the second round as the 40th overall pick in 2014.
Tic Tac Taki
When it comes to the X’s and O’s of football, Sione Takitaki gets it. Takitaki played offense and defense at Heritage HS in Fontana California. He totaled 1,673 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns during his junior and senior years as a running back. On defense, Takitaki totaled 193 tackles with 162 solos, 21.5 sacks, and 42.5 tackles for a loss. He also had a blocked punt, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and one interception. He played in 41 games for BYU finishing his career with a total of 235 tackles. He would also tally 32.5 tackles for a loss, 13 QB hurries, and 14.5 sacks. Even though he didn’t have any interceptions he did have five pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. In the 2019 NFL Draft, with the 17th pick in the third round, the Cleveland Browns would select Sione Takitaki.
Three of a kind
These three BYU linebackers played their cards right and beat the odds. The chances of a high school senior going on to play college football are 1 in 17. Of those players, college seniors who get drafted by the NFL are 1 in 50. As a result of these statistics, the chances of that same high school player to not only play in college but also get drafted by the NFL is 9 in 10,000. The players who are talented enough to make that transition are the “aces” of their game.