Cougars Offer Utah Linebacker

Following the commitments of Jake Heaps, Ross Apo and Zac Stout, BYU held a Junior Day loaded with top LDS and non-LDS talent from across the country. One of those talented athletes learned firsthand from Coach Mendenhall that he had been given a full-ride scholarship offer.

BYU's Junior Day was a star-studded gathering of some of the top high school football prospects from around the county. One in particular was outside linebacker Toloa'i Ho Ching. Ho Ching is the nation's 26th-rated outside linebacker according to Scout and is the number one outside linebacker on Scout's 2010 Northwest Fab 50, and he faced stiff competition during BYU's Junior Day workouts.

"They had me line up against the linebacker out of Southern California, Zac Stout," said Ho Ching. "It was a lot of fun going up against him and I was able to show Coach Tidwell what I had and had been working on. I think I did pretty well and thought I matched up well against him. They put us through a bunch of drills. Coach Tidwell said I did really good and I felt I did better than most that were there in many of the drills."

Ho Ching was able to meet and greet with those in attendance, including BYU's most recent commits.

"I was able to meet Jake Heaps and Ross Apo as well as Zac Stout," Ho Ching said. "They knew who I was and we talked for a bit. It was a good feeling. They knew who I was, which was nice because I know who they were. It's kind of a bonus because I know that they want me there. It was kind of a mutual thing."

Top-rated quarterback and future Cougar Jake Heaps worked out in front of all the players and coaches, and Ho Ching was impressed by his abilities.

"You can definitely see why he's the best out there, and he's not only a great quarterback but a great leader," Ho Ching said about Heaps. "He has a great personality and he's down to earth. He's just a great kid."

Over the spring, Ho Ching was given a few personal things to work on by the Cougar staff while he made a personal visit to BYU. Prior to any scholarship offer, the BYU staff wanted to evaluate him further. Ho Ching spent the last few months working on those specific things the staff stressed, and on Junior Day he was able to put what was expected of him on display in front of the BYU coaches.

"We did different pass coverage drills and one-on-ones," Ho Ching said. "We were put through different [lateral pursuit] drills in order to check out our footwork, change of direction and how well we move."

As an outside linebacker in the 4-3 system, linebackers have to have the ability to cover in space. BYU's coaching staff wanted to see more of Ho Ching's abilities in this specific facet of the game. Evidently, he impressed.

"After that Coach Tidwell came up to me and said that I did a great job," said Ho Ching. "When I was talking to Coach Mendenhall, Coach Tidwell came up to us and told him that I was the one that he wanted."

Soon after that Ho Ching was given some exciting news.

"Coach Mendenhall just pulled me and my family aside when we were at Lavell Edwards Stadium," Ho Ching said. "We weren't in his normal office. We were in the part of the stadium where the general authorities sit to watch the games. We were there with BYU's defensive coordinator [Jaime Hill] and Coach Mendenhall. He asked me if I wanted to be here at BYU. He said that they wanted me there and that's when they offered and gave me a full-ride [offer]. He didn't have the envelope with him but he said it was in his office. He told us it was a full-ride scholarship offer to play football at BYU. Just hearing that was very exciting.

"This is something that I've been working hard [for] and finally accomplished. To finally be rewarded for all your hard work with a scholarship offer from BYU is just a great feeling of accomplishment. It's what I've been working hard for, so when I was told that I had a scholarship offer by Coach Mendenhall I was very excited. Like I said before, this is something that I've been working hard for. This is really amazing and there is no other feeling in the world like it. After he told me and my family that I had a scholarship there was this moment of silence."

Ho Ching didn't commit to Coach Mendenhall then despite the fact that he could be playing alongside some of the great talent that BYU has attracted.

"It's great to see those guys and get to know them but it really wouldn't have mattered if they did commit or went somewhere else," Ho Ching said. "Even if they went someplace else it wouldn't have matter much to me because I would still consider BYU as one of my top choices. The fact that they are there is great, but even if there wasn't the top athletes there I would still consider BYU."

Currently Ho Ching has offers from Wyoming, Wisconsin and BYU, with more offers likely to be in the mix soon.

"I'm grateful for the offers from all those schools," said Ho Ching. "They're all great programs and I'm excited about them and to get to know their programs better, but I'm also excited about the offer from BYU. I'm excited to get to know this program better as well and see how the program does next year. BYU has a great program in more areas than just football.

"Being there at BYU is just a great feeling. The environment is great and the program is designed to help mold athletes into better people. It's a life-growing experience, so there is more to BYU that makes it a great place outside of football. I'm just really excited about the offer from BYU. It's just a great school, and what more can you say? They have a great football program and the school is the best place for LDS kids. For myself, I've always had high standards and expectations. Going to a school of high status that expects the most out of you in every way will only push me to become better in all aspects of my life."

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