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

came calling.

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

after committing.

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

College.

"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

Miami."

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

Timo.

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

crazy."

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

2009.

"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

said.

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: dharmon@desnews.com