When Christian Saulsberry’s #2 football jersey was retired by Northpoint Christian School prior to Friday night’s game with Magnolia Heights, it marked the first time the school had permanently put aside a football jersey number in honor of one of its own.
Saulsberry, a 2016 graduate of Northpoint Christian, was a star football player and important factor in the Trojans reaching the 2015 TSSAA Division II-A state championship game. He went on from there to play college football at Itawamba Community College and the University of West Alabama, eventually being signed to play professional football with the Edmonton Elks of the Canadian Football League.
He was shot and died at the age of 25 near Walls in December of last year.
At Friday night’s retirement ceremony, Christian’s parents- Melissa and Vince Smith, sisters Candace and Caitlyn, and other members of the Saulsberry family joined Head of School Jim Ferguson, school trustee Shawn Clayton, athletic director Barry Gray, and two of Christian’s coaches, Chris Cascio and Jeff Henderson, as a special resolution was read and Saulsberry’s #2 jersey was officially retired.
“We know no one is more deserving of this special distinction than Christian, who taught us all to chase big dreams as he always sought to reach every bit of his God-given potential,” Ferguson said.
Saulsberry was on his way toward making a strong impact in the CFL when his life was cut short. In eight games with the Elks, he totaled 635 yards on kickoff returns, 235 yards on punt returns, and 78 yards on missed field goal returns.
He had the 2022 CFL season single-game high for kick return yards (175, at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Oct. 8) and the highest punt return average (12.4 yards) of any Edmonton player with at least 15 punt returns over the last 25 years.