Snow Canyon all-state running back Adam Hine is a unique football
recruit for BYU's football team. His roots are complicated.
He's a half African-American, half Haitian member of the LDS faith, an
athlete whose high jump record of 7-feet-2 is the best in Utah high school
history. That profile is almost unheard of for a Cougar recruit.
Hine committed to the Cougars in the twilight of his sophomore year and
just earned first-team all-state honors as a running back in a game where
he's played nearly every position on the field.
In June, he'll leave on a two-year church mission. But before signing
his letter of intent last Wednesday, he emphatically proclaimed "BYU is the
place I need to be."
He never wavered from his pledge to sign, even when Stanford and Utah
Before signing, he didn't need to be shown a depth chart of where he'd
play upon his return from a mission.
He didn't need to see where he'd be in the pecking order if he didn't
leave for two years. He didn't need to be promised, courted or buttered up,
and he rarely spoke to BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall the past two years
His family, described as humble, hard-working, honest and simple, merely
wanted Adam to have a chance to play at BYU.
Mendenhall should feel very lucky for such loyalty. And humility.
Emily Timo, Adam's mother, is the youngest in a family of nine children
from the West African country of Togo, between Ghana and Benin. She came to
the United States when she was 17 to live with her older brother in Long
Beach, Calif. She tended his daughter while his flight attendant wife was
gone and took night classes to learn English.
Growing up in Togo, a French colony, she spoke fluent French as well as
her native language of Togolese. It took a lot of work to get a passport
and visa to come to America, and learning English became a priority. Five
months after she moved in with her brother's family, he was transferred to
Sacramento. Emily had learned enough English to enroll at American River
"One day I was talking to a gentleman and he said he knew a guy who said
I looked like I spoke French. He said he knew a guy who spoke French and
he'd introduce me. 'You will get along,' he told me."
Emily didn't know anything about the LDS Church, but one day there were
two missionaries looking for her on campus. "They wore white shirts and
ties and I hid from them," she said. "I thought they were from the FBI or
the CIA or something and they were out to question me about something.
"But one of them was a black guy and he had a white companion. My friend
Jerry, who said he knew a guy who spoke French, meant this black
missionary, who was from Haiti, though his family had migrated to the
Bahamas. He joined the LDS Church when he lived with his cousins in
Emily began taking lessons from the missionaries until her brother found
out and put a stop to it.
"He is Catholic and had heard the Mormons didn't have a good history
with blacks," she said. "Since he was responsible for me, he told me he
didn't want the missionaries to come over any more. I was underaged."
A short time later, she was walking down the street near her home in
Sacramento on a Sunday, heading to a gas station to get a snack, when she
passed an LDS stake center. Out in front of the building, missionaries saw
her and called her name. Standing there with them was the French-speaking
friend, who'd finished his mission and returned to visit. His name was Joel
She admits she "pursued" Timo when he invited her to visit in Florida.
After living with his family for a short time, she returned to Sacramento,
and then moved to Miami.
"I admit it was crazy," she said. "At the time, I didn't think it was
She got a basement apartment for $150 a month, invited the missionaries
over and later joined the LDS faith.
Emily and Joel married in the Oakland Temple. Joel accepted a call as
Haitian branch president, where he served for five years.
"We had three beautiful children," said Emily. Chris came in 1986,
Ashley two years later and Adam in 1990. The couple later divorced and
Emily moved to St. George, where she is currently working as a nurse
assistant and attending Dixie State College.
Chris, who played football at Dixie State College, served as a soldier
nearly two years in Iraq before returning to Dixie State. Ashley is a
member of Utah Valley University's track team, and Adam signed to play
football for the Cougars last Wednesday.
"I am still single," said Emily. "I promised myself when me and my ex
had a falling-out that I would dedicate my life to seeing these kids get an
education. Everything I've done is to help them. I feel sad for them
because I think I'm all they've got. I work really hard to see they receive
everything they can to succeed.
"When they are older and if somebody pops into my life, I'll go from
there, or I will return home to Togo, where I will try and serve my church
with the Ghana temple nearby."
Emily is proud that Adam is headed for BYU, a commitment he made nearly
two years ago, the first to pledge to sign in Bronco Mendenhall's class of
"I want my children to be grateful for their opportunities, to be polite
and kind and respectful," she said.
Adam recently changed his name to Adam Hine, his mother's maiden name.
"For personal reasons," he said.
When Mendenhall visited his home recently, it was a unique visit.
"We didn't talk much about football at all," said Adam. "We talked about
a lot of things. I told him I was still committed to sign."
Last week, when asked if he ever second-guessed himself over the early
decision and commitment so long ago, he said he's never given it a second
thought. He's now 20 pounds heavier and has more fully proven himself.
"No regrets, none at all. It's where I always wanted to be," Adam
Who has had the most influence in his life and his decisions? "My
family, my mom," he said.
In an era of de-commits and torrid recruiting rumors, Hine's signing day
was undramatic. At Snow Canyon High, he was the only one dressed up in a
shirt and tie, a sign of respect for the moment.
To Hine, a commitment is simple. It's for real.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org