Amir Carlisle is not one of those athletes. This week he starred in the musical Godspell at Kings Academy High. This past semester he earned a 4.28 GPA--saying his overall GPA is a measly 4.07. In the offseason, he kept in shape through boxing.
"I would go where God would lead me to go," he said. "Things changed, I felt God was leading me toward USC. And I'm glad I chose it."
Athletes who thank God for their success are as common as peanut butter and jelly. Nothing unusual, as religion is often a source for motivation and inspiration in sports.
"I play for a higher purpose. I can't be lazy when I'm working because Christ calls me to excellence. My coach taught me about the ministry of football," he said.
Before enrolling at Kings Academy in Sunnyvale, Calif. where Carlisle rushed for 2,110 yards and scored 25 touchdowns, he began his high school career at Valley Christian.
Talking to Carlisle, it seems like he's never hit the brakes. Even as a freshman in 2007 at Valley Christian, Carlisle was a busybee. Not only was he called up to varsity to play cornerback on the football team, he also played point guard on the basketball team and ran relays for the track team. Despite being named his previous high school's Most Outstanding Freshman Athlete, he remained diligent in his studies, which he attributes to his religion.
"Being a Christian we're called to do everything to excellence," he said. "Those long nights [in high school], there was no senioritis for me."
For the scat back who has been professionally trained in tap dancing, played piano for a few years, and regularly participates in his school's outreach program, you'd wonder if he will take a step back once in college.
"I plan to double major in drama and business entrepreneurship," he said.
Well that answers that question. Maybe this summer, then?
"I've already started spending time in my playbook," he said. "I think my intelligence translates to the football field. I've been blessed with a good memory, I just want to be a sponge and soak up everything."
When he can pencil in time on the field, the scat back is a menace in the flat. He bursts through gaps like a motorcyclist weaving on the freeway, and holds onto the ball seamlessly, like it's another limb. His best game in high school he carried the ball 22 times, running for over 300 yards.
"All I can do is work hard and do the best at the task at hand. I'm going to dedicate my full self to the football program and to my studies. Wherever it takes me I'm going to be 100 percent dedicated to the task at hand," he said.
Full dedication is difficult when you take on as much as Carlisle. But his faith has led him to success, and that success continues to propel him forward.
"My religion is something I'll take with me at USC and through my entire life," he said.
Come Fall, Carlisle plans to bring his fire, passion (and probably his appointment book) down to Los Angeles. If that energy can translate into yardage and touchdowns for the Trojans, everything else on his resume may not matter.
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