Meet Atamu Ah Ching

Meet Atamu Ah Ching, all of 15 years old with an offer from BYU already in hand. Ah Ching has exploded onto the recruiting scene at a very early age. Seldom do players receive offers before their sophomore seasons, but through some standout camp performances Ah Ching has already garnered his first offer from a Division I program.

Atamu Ah Ching is a 6-foot, 205-pound inside linebacker prospect from Greer High School in South Carolina. He made waves at BYU's summer camp in 2008 and returned this past summer to perform at BYU's camp and the All-Poly Camp held in Bountiful, Utah. Ah Ching was met with an offer soon after his camp performance.

"I couldn't believe it," said Ah Ching about being offered by BYU. "It was a big surprise to me. It's something I wasn't expecting, but I'm very grateful for the offer and I consider it a great honor to be offered by a school like BYU."

So how does a 15-year-old athlete deal with the early recruiting pub? Most people at that age don't think a wit about college, and even fewer receive a scholarship offer before their sophomore year.

"Coaches told me - Coach Mendenhall especially - told me not to get big-headed now that I've been offered," informed Ah Ching. "He told me to stay humble, keep improving and that they'd keep in touch with me and watch me progress."

Ah Ching first met the Cougar head coach in his office following camp.

"They told me that Coach Mendenhall wanted to meet with me and I really didn't know why," said Ah Ching. "I thought I was in trouble or something. I had no idea that he wanted to talk to me and get to know me better before offering me a scholarship."

Ah Ching's conversation with Mendenhall started out with discussion of the honor code first and foremost.

"Right away he flat out asked me if I knew what the honor code was," related Ah Ching. "I told him that I didn't and he went on to explain it to me. He asked me if I thought I could live it and I was like, ‘Yeah, that's how I've been brought up anyway.'"

Ah Ching is LDS and has definite plans to serve a mission. He comes from a devout Mormon family whose father, Otto Ah Ching, played college ball himself at Hawaii.

Ah Ching looks to follow in his father's footsteps and is off to a big head start in regards to securing a spot for himself in college.

But for now, Ah Ching is just working to realize his great potential through camps and workouts as he prepares to assume the starting role of middle linebacker in his high school team's 4-3 defensive system.

Ah Ching was thrust into action immediately as a freshman on his high school's varsity squad. He was admittedly very nervous starting out, but as he started to play he began to put up some very good stats, leading to an All-Conference selection and other honors as a mere freshman.

"Once I got going it came to me and I was able to play and do really well," recalled Ah Ching of his experience starting at middle linebacker as a freshman. "My first game where I started I had seven tackles and two forced fumbles, and I continued that throughout the season."

Ah Ching runs a 4.65 forty and cites his downhill pursuit and lateral quickness as his strengths on the football field.

"I'm real aggressive and I like to play downhill," confirmed Ah Ching. "I'm a very aggressive player and I love to hit. I really like playing middle linebacker."

Ah Ching aims to get his forty time below 4.6 by the time he graduates, and also wants to improve his strength.

Although Ah Ching hails from far away South Carolina, he feels very at home in Provo. Indeed, Ah Ching appears to be related to or very close to a good number of current Cougar players and those set to play for BYU in the coming years. Iona Pritchard is his cousin, and he also became very good friends with recruits such as Harvey Langi, among others.

"Me and Harvey talked a lot while I was in Provo," related Ah Ching. "I got to hit him a few times at camps and I brought him down good a couple of times. He's real good and I love going up against him. We had a lot of fun."

Ah Ching is also very familiar with BYU's team, having watched it perform over the years. Two players in particular have caught his eye.

"I love watching Harvey Unga play football and I loved to watch Fui Vakapuna as well," said Ah Ching. "Those guys are awesome and I'd love to play that well in college. Those are two guys I really look up to."

Although BYU is Ah Ching's only offer so far, many schools are bound to follow and offer scholarships. Ah Ching really made himself known at the All-Poly Camp, where schools such as Stanford, South Florida and UCLA contacted him and indicated that they'd be offering very soon.

Ah Ching, however, isn't thinking much right now about where he's going to play, realizing that he has plenty of time before he has to make that decision. What Ah Ching is sure of is what he wants in a football program and school.

"I want to go to a place with high morals," explained Ah Ching. "That's the most important thing for me. I want a school with a good atmosphere where I can progress and reach my goals and a school that will respect my plans to serve a mission. I'm definitely serving a mission and whatever school I play for will have to respect those plans."

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