AJ is from Washington state and grew up there with his mom ( Mireya Vongpachanh), dad (Joe Vongpachanh) and younger sister (Joenna Vongphachanh). AJ’s mom is from Mexico and his dad is from Laos. For those wondering where exactly Laos is on the map, it is sandwiched between Thailand and Vietnam, in the southeast region of Asia.
Washington State, South Carolina, and Minnesota will be missing out this coming fall as USU transfer AJ Vongphachanh has chosen your BYU cougars to be the team and the school he will be a part of for his final year of eligibility! So who is this 6’2” Linebacker coming to join BYUs defense? We sat down with AJ this week and asked him all the questions Cougar Nation wants to know.
Believe it or not but football wasnt AJs first sport! When he was in elementary school AJ started playing baseball, and it was because of one of his coaches, who was also a little league football coach, that he got started with football. His coach asked him to come and tryout and initially AJs mom wont let him play due to how dangerous football can be. After a few years of asking AJs mom finally let him play, and this is what he had to say in remembering his start into the football world, “ I started in like 5th or 6th grade and after that, you know I just fell in love with it.”
AJ got his start at USU as a Defensive End and his coaches helped him make the transition from DE to linebacker! BYU’s linebacker coach Jackson Ena was one of those coaches that helped AJ change. Ena was a Linebacker coach/ Defensive Coordinator back at USU when AJ first began his collegiate career. Coach Ena was one of the big factors that helped AJ make his decision to come to Provo. He along with Coach Jay Hill and his official visit made his hard decision easier.
Our new linebacker sees himself doing one of a few things in the next 5 years after this last year of college football… he would love to be playing football at a higher level and continuing to become the best football player he can be. He also can see himself using his degree, which is in International Business, trying to make the world a better place and last but not least he can see himself being a coach himself and helping change the lives of the younger football generations. AJ is a great example of how to be a student athlete by not only by succeeding on the field but also in the classroom. He received Academic All-Mountain West Honors all 4 years he was there.
So what does this versatile linebacker bring to the table? Well first off he is very coachable, and hard working. He talked to us about the challenges in changing positions as well and learning to work under different coaches each season. He also knows exactly what Coach Ena wants and will be able to execute the overall game plan. This is already proven in his stats and what his career already looks like. He has started the last 27 games for USU and having 206 total tackles from 2021-2022, and leading the team in tackles this last season. He is constantly getting better and working harder to be the best he can be.
As we look forward to this coming season we can have hope in the new changes and new athletes that are coming in to help our Cougs become the best they can be, and AJ is a part of that hope. AJs message to Cougar Nation is this: “ I appreciate the support and the love that has been thrown my way… there was a surge of support when I posted my commitment… and it makes me want to work hard and get things rolling… There is a lot of work to be done and I am going to work hard for my spot.”