NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Rodney Saulsberry of Whitehaven High School (Memphis) has been named the 2016 Tennessee Titans High School Coach of the Year after leading his football team to a perfect 15-0 season and winning the Class 6A state championship.
Saulsberry outscored his opponents 505-130 overall – 168-45 in the postseason, including a 12-9 win over Oakland High School in the 6A BlueCross Bowl. Oakland entered the state championship game ranked No. 18 in the nation, according to the USA Today Super 25 national high school poll. Whitehaven's defense held Oakland to just 9 points, an offense previously averaging 48 points per game.
This year marks the second time Saulsberry has received the honor. He was named Coach of the Year in 2012 after defeating Maryville 36-35 in overtime in the Class 6A state championship game.
"Coach Saulsberry has built one of the most successful programs in the state of Tennessee and is well respected among his fellow coaches," said Josh Corey, Tennessee Titans Youth Football Coordinator. "The manner in which Whitehaven performed in the face of adversity, against a very talented Oakland team in the 6A BlueCross Bowl, was a testament to Coach Saulsberry's leadership. He is a great head coach and very deserving of this award. The Tennessee Titans are proud to recognize his outstanding efforts in naming him our Coach of the Year."
As the 2016 Tennessee Titans Coach of the Year, Saulsberry will receive a grant in the amount of $2,000 to benefit his football program, as well as an all-expense paid trip to the 2017 Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fl.
Saulsberry's selection also qualifies him for the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year award, honoring high school football coaches that display the integrity, achievement and leadership exemplified by the coach with the most wins in NFL history, Don Shula. The Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year award winner – announced in January – receives $10,000 and his high school football program is awarded $15,000.
The Titans' High School Coach of the Year award is an extension of the High School Game of the Week and Coach of the Week programs. Each Coach of the Week (10 total) received a grant from the Tennessee Titans in the amount of $1,000 to benefit his school's football program. All 11 award winners – 10 Coach of the Week winners and the Coach of the Year – will be recognized during the Titans vs. Texans game on Sunday, Jan. 1.
Through the Coach of the Week program, the Titans have donated more than $190,000 in grant funding to high school football programs across the state.
For more information on the High School Game of the Week and Coach of the Week program, visit www.titansonline.com/gameoftheweek.
Previous Coach of the Year award winners:
1999 — Jim Wilson, Glencliff High School
2000 — Tom Weathers, Red Bank High School
2001 — Ralph Potter, McCallie High School
2002 — Robert Lassiter, Gallatin High School
2003 — Jeff Morris, Milan High School
2004 — Buck Coatney, Knoxville Fulton HS
2005 — George Quarles, Maryville High School
2006 — Philip Shadowens, Smyrna High School
2007 — Ralph Thompson, Maplewood HS
2008 — Scott Blade, Hillsboro High School
2009 — Anthony Crabtree, Beech High School
2010 — Gary Rankin, Alcoa High School
2011 — James Counce, Henry County High
2012 — Rodney Saulsberry, Whitehaven High School
2013 — Darren Bowling, Union City High School
2014 — Ingle Martin, Christ Presbyterian Academy
2015 — Scott Blade, Independence High School
2016 — Rodney Saulsberry, Whitehaven High School
Game of the Week/Coach of the Week
Week 1: Independence vs. Centennial (Scott Blade – Independence)
Week 2: Hendersonville vs. Cane Ridge (Eddie Woods – Cane Ridge)
Week 3: Brentwood vs. Franklin (Donnie Webb – Franklin)
Week 4: McKenzie vs. Adamsville (Brandon Gray – Adamsville)
Week 5: Mt. Juliet vs. Wilson Central (Trey Perry – Mt. Juliet)
Week 6: Watertown vs. Forrest (Brent Johns – Forrest)
Week 7: White Station vs. Cordova (Anthony Jones – Cordova)
Week 8:Union City vs. Dresden (Derek Rang – Dresden)
Week 9: Wayne County vs. Huntingdon (Rick Rice – Wayne County)
Week 10: Centennial vs. Henry County (Matt Kriesky – Centennial)
Tennessee's top high school football players were recognized at the 2016 Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Awards at Nissan Stadium. (Donn Jones Photography.com)