BYU One of Ah Ching's Top Schools

South Carolina linebacker Adam Ah Ching has been named to the ESPNU Top 150 watch list as one of the top prospects in the country for the 2012 class. The 6-foot-1-inch, 210-pound junior has done very well for himself and currently has three scholarship offers on the table, with more college programs showing interest as time wears on.

Adam Ah Ching, who is Samoan, is in a unique situation. He's probably one of the only Polynesian high school players in his area, and is doing all that he can to represent his people and his LDS faith on and off the football field.

"I'm doing pretty good," Ah Ching said. "I'm just trying to get as many tackles as I can and make play after play. Being probably the only Polynesian out here in the Carolinas, I try and represent and stand out more than the other players. I try and show emotion on the field.

"I'm doing pretty good so far. I have 105 tackles on the season so far and I still have one more game left until the playoffs. Not this past game but the game before I had 17 individual tackles and two assisted. I guess it's the mana or power."

In speaking of mana – or power from the heavens – Ah Ching taught his football team the Maori haka dance to help get their mindset ready prior to stepping on the field.

"Being Polynesian and on the mainland, I'm trying to teach the kids out here more about the culture and how we do things. It brings the excitement to a whole different level that kind of helps us with football. People out here aren't really used to it, but it's good."

As for recruiting, Ah Ching has been noticing – and been noticed by – some schools in the South.

"Oh yeah, I think I'm going to go to one of the Alabama games – I'm just not sure yet," Ah Ching said. "Auburn has been talking to me a lot, and I saw them play against Clemson, and Clemson is just right down the road from us. I've been talking a lot to Clemson even more than Auburn though, but Auburn has been talking to me and told me to send them my tape."

Many top college programs have been in contact and have shown interest in Ah Ching.

"Oh man, there's a lot," he said. "Michigan, Penn State, Notre Dame, Clemson, Arkansas, Colorado, LSU, Auburn, Stanford, Oregon, Boston College, BYU, and I can just go down the list. Miami has stepped into the mix."

Currently, Ah Ching has scholarship offers from Oregon, Colorado and BYU. BYU was the first to recognize Ah Ching's talents and reward him with an offer, and he said that has been a real blessing for him.

"I was going into my sophomore year and going to camps. I just showed everything I had and was just trying to do everything I could to catch the BYU coaches' eye. I guess it worked and I was called into Coach Mendenhall's office after camp. Since then it just kind of went from there."

Although the Cougars have struggled this season, Ah Ching has seen the effect Coach Mendenhall has had ever since taking over as defensive coordinator.

"Yeah, I can see a difference in the way the defense is playing," he said. "I've seen them play against Utah State and saw how they struggled. I've watched how they stepped it up against … TCU since then."

Ah Ching admits that even though he's had limited contact with Coach Mendenhall, the Cougar coach has had an impact on him.

"Coach Mendenhall is like the bishop of the football team as well as the head coach," Ah Ching said. "You follow his word and do what he says. He's had a big impact on me, the way that he talks about his players and the way he talks about going on a mission and coming back as a man. He's very spiritual and when I was in the room with him I felt the Spirit when he spoke. He's kind of blessed me in a way I guess."

Ah Ching has a desire to serve a full-time mission. In fact, he's made it known to college recruiters that serving a mission is his first desire. It's caused some to back off, but Ah Ching knows that any church-related goals won't be an issue with BYU.

"I think the spiritual aspect of BYU is a whole different thing," Ah Ching said. "I also think it's more of a team effort in the things they do rather than one individual. I think the coaches see the players different. It's a different atmosphere at BYU and perspective and I think that's why. A lot of what they focus on are church-related things.

"If I were to go to BYU, I know they would hold my scholarship for me without any question. Other schools kind of shy away from me because you go away from the game for two years and might get out of shape. I've told coaches that if you don't let me serve my mission, then I'm not interested. I don't want to waste their time, because I want to serve my mission. I guess they understand that now and they're respecting my decision more and more."

Ah Ching's favorites right now are BYU, Oregon, Colorado, Clemson, LSU and Penn State. He said that BYU is probably his top school.

"I've talked to Division I players before, and in the end they've told me that college coaches have screwed them over before," said Ah Ching. "I know Coach Mendenhall is a bright man and knows how to choose players well, and I've talked to former BYU players and they've said he is awesome. Basically my relationship with a coach and how he's going to help me when I'm down is something that I'm looking for."

While LSU hasn't offered him, Ah Ching likes the Tigers mainly because of former Cougar head coach and current Tiger offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.

"He's been contacting me a lot and has been telling me about the school and everything," said Ah Ching. "He told me he would take care of me and stuff if I had the chance to go out there. That's mainly why [I like LSU], and I see him as a guy who is kind of a father figure I guess if I ever chose LSU."

Clemson is appealing to Ah Ching because it's the local school.

"My dad is quadriplegic and he's paralyzed from the neck down," said Ah Ching. "It would be easier for him to come out and see me play [at Clemson]."

Ah Ching has an interest in Penn State due to the rich linebacker tradition the program has developed over the years.

"You gotta love Penn State if you're a linebacker," Ah Ching. "It's Linebacker U, and it's a good winning program in the Big 10. I've been watching them a lot and their linebackers. One of their linebackers are probably in the top five for the Dick Butkus Award every year. They have a very good linebacker program there and there are a lot of NFL linebackers that have come from Penn State."

In addition to the religious connection, BYU has an addition card in its back pocket that other programs don't have when it comes to recruiting Ah Ching, and that's his relation to his cousin Toloa'i Ho Ching, who signed with BYU in the 2010 recruiting class.

"Oh yeah, that's my boy," said an excited Ah Ching. "Oh man, playing together is something we talk about all the time. We've been texting back and forth about BYU. He told me to pray about my decision. The funny thing that he told me was, 'Take all of your visits and recruiting trips, but the last one you take go to BYU and then commit.' I guess he's been a really good stepping stone for me and BYU. The Ho Ching and Ah Ching connection, you know, is a big-time influence for me and BYU. I've been talking to him ever since I got that offer from BYU. Basically, Utah and BYU is kind of a second home for me because I go out there every year. I would love to play linebacker with my cousin Toloa'i. I would love to play with Baker Pritchard [also a cousin] and Manoa Pikula and all them, but I have to see and I'm still going through the recruiting process. I just don't know yet."

Ah Ching still has one more year of high school football left to play before he chooses a college. Prior to inking his name on any letter of intent, he plans on following the council of his cousin.

"Yeah, I plan on praying about it and making sure the decision is the right one," Ah Ching said. "I'm still a junior so I have time before I have to make a final decision."

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