Christian Saulsberry is a dual-sport athlete at Southaven High. He boasts lofty aspiration of landing an athletic scholarship.
However, he’s clinging to one good problem.
“I can’t decide,” Saulsberry told MemphiSport, when asked which sport on which he would prefer to concentrate at the next level. “Because I’m good at both of them. I just like to get after it. I like to make plays. I like to be the person the team depends on. I feel like when I’m doing good, everybody else does good.”
In a nutshell, as Saulsberry goes, so does his teammates.
That’s certainly has proven to be the case for this vibrant, sophomore sensation, who stars in both football and baseball for Southaven.
Since making the transition to the high schools ranks, the 16-year-old Saulsberry has been nothing less-than-stellar on the gridiron and baseball diamond.
To his credit, he made continuous strides this past season for a Charger football team that boasted an efficient rushing attack. While making nine appearances, the speedy 5-foot-7, 161-pound Saulsberry finished the 2013 campaign as Southaven’s leading rusher with 367 yards on 84 carries. His longest gain of the season was a 29-yard scamper for a Charger team that finished sixth in the always-rugged MHSAA Region 1-6A standings with a 6-6 record.
In addition, his 40.8 yards per game were the best among the team’s prolific backfield.
That’s not all.
Saulsberry demonstrated to be just as effective on the diamond for a Southaven baseball squad that compiled a 24-8 mark and captured its third Class 6A championship in school history.
How to explain the success for a multi-sport athlete who, with two years remaining at the prep ranks, is destined to come under the radar among college scouts in both sports?
For starters, Saulsberry’s competitive drive is fueled, in large part because of the time his mother, Melissa Saulsberry-Smith routinely devotes to putting him position to fulfill his collegiate athlete dreams.
Smith, an accounting representative for FedEx, has developed a routine of staying up in the wee hours of the morning, exhausting every option with regards to helping her son assume a full-ride scholarship.
As Smith tells it, she doesn’t plan to alter her strategy any time soon, at least not until her son is among the high school athletes who will sign a National Letter of Intent in two years.
Smith’s tireless research includes browsing the internet for various 7-on-7 football camps and combines, to checking to see when student-athletes are allowed to take college entrance exams. According to Smith, the earlier she prepares her son for college, the better his chances of fulfilling his ambitions will become.
“I’ve seen what a leg back does,” Smith explained. “People are not prepared. If you’re not prepared, you’re always behind or behind someone.”
Not only that, she has a thought-provoking catchphrase to back up her drive to assure her son is in the best possible shape to sign a letter of intent.
“When you are proactive, you are prepared and always in front,” she said. “When you are reactive, you are responding and left behind. Which one are you?”
Saulsberry, an outfielder for the Mid-South Gamers summer league baseball team that competes before college scouts, relishes the fact that his mother has taken an aggressive approach in terms of aiding aim to be successful on and away from the playing surface.
“That makes me want to do my part because I know she’s doing her part,” Saulsberry said. “I’m very appreciative because some parents aren’t willing to help their kids out. They depend on their coaches. I can see the progress from her doing that. People are always telling me to keep up the good work. With her, I know who’s looking at me going into my junior year.”
A year in which he figures to once again cling to that one good problem he’s orchestrated as a dual-sport athlete.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.