Ask anyone in Greer, S.C., who the top football player is in their neck of the woods and most all of them would say Adam Ah Ching.
Ah Ching, a 6-foot, 210-pound middle linebacker, is raising the eyebrows of some of the top BCS schools including, Nebraska, Utah, UCLA, Colorado, Notre Dame and South Carolina.
Ah Ching, who is of Chinese/Samoan ancestry, is the 23rd-ranked high school linebacker in the country by ESPN. In pursuit of his dream of playing college football, Ah Ching recently made his way to Utah to participate in the All Poly Camp in Bountiful, Utah.
There is, however, one thing more important to Ah Ching than football: family.
Ah Ching and his family are LDS and live in an area of the Deep South where there are only a very few members of their faith.
“Adam has been a leader and a missionary trying to help people understand about our church,” said Otto Ah Ching, Adams father. “We live in an area where people still believe we are about polygamy and so we have to be strong and rely on each other.”
Adam is hoping his athletic ability and his family’s strength will help him earn a football scholarship. Otto Ah Ching, who played college football, was seriously injured in an accident some years ago and is now confined to a wheelchair, and his mother is a school teacher. Funds for college are limited.
“Growing up Adam begged me to teach him to play football,” Otto said. “I wanted to teach him but I physically couldn’t.”
Adam had to learn on his own, and based on the amount of attention he is getting he has done a good job.
“Adam is very strong, and he has become strong by lifting me and carrying me,” Otto explains. “Taking care of me has made him a person of good character.”
Rob Nielsen, a close family friend who is also LDS, is going with Adam to the numerous football camps a player of his ranking would normally attend.
“I was honored to help. I have known the Ah Ching family for a long time,” Nielsen said. “Adam grew up with my sons so he is like family.”
Nielsen will spend his summer driving Adam to various camps until he gets an offer that will allow him to get a good education.
“Adam is a humble kid and at the same time he is a very talented kid with aspirations to play in the NFL,” Nielsen said. “Because of his father’s situation, Adam is also a realist and understands the importance of a good education.”
Adam readily admits that he would have liked to have attended more football camps out West including BYU and the University of Utah. For financial reasons the family decided that the All Poly Camp would be the one camp that they could afford.
“It just makes sense because coaches from all over the West, including Utah and BYU, will be in attendance so the family’s financial sacrifice will hopefully yield a higher return,” Nielsen said.
Charles Kano is an avid sports fan with a particular penchant for high school and college football.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company