Alabama's Salem focused on the present


By Will Barry The Crimson White

January 26, 2007

Tuscaloosa, AL (CSTV U-WIRE) -- Alabama senior centerfielder Emeel Salem is focused - whether it's on the next pitch, practice, game, test or class.

This can be especially challenging if you are named to the 2007 College Baseball Foundation, Rivals and NCBWA Preseason All-American teams.

Salem was also named to the 2007 Brooks Wallace Award and Dick Howser Trophy watch list.

Despite all the recognition that he receives, he said he keeps focused on team goals and how he can improve for this season.

"It really is an honor to be on all these lists," Salem said. "It's a team thing, and team accomplishments are so much more satisfying than anything individual."

The 6-foot, 180-pound lefty who hit 32 RBIs and had 101 hits in 2006 does not only excel on the baseball diamond. He is also on the verge of leaving Alabama as one of the school's most successful student-athletes.

Salem holds a 3.9 GPA in management and Spanish and has been on the SEC Academic Honor Roll for the last three seasons.

"I really do take pride in my grades," Salem said. "When a lot of guys go out and everything, I'm in the library studying. So, I definitely make the sacrifices."

Looking ahead would be hard for some people with his kind of resume, but Salem is worried about how to make Alabama a better team for the 2007 season.

"You just have to take every day as it comes and focus in on this moment. In baseball, you really can't really look ahead or behind because that will mess up the present," Salem said.

Emeel is not the only Salem to excel on the baseball diamond. His father, Emeel Salem Sr., was drafted in the 10th round by the Chicago Cubs out of high school but decided to play at South Alabama for coach Eddie Stanky.

"He's always been able to guide me through all this, and he knew that education would be important to me," Salem said. "He's been great, you know, because he's there and he understands what I'm going through. And it's really great to have a resource like that."

Emeel is not the only one in his family to wear crimson and white for Alabama as well.

He is related to a long list of football players at Alabama, including Ed Salem (HB, 1947-50), George Salem Sr. (HB, 1956), George Salem Jr. (OL, 1986) and Jimbo Salem (LB, 1988).

Salem said he is glad to have been able to carry on the Alabama family tradition and hopes that it will continue.

"Hopefully, my kids or one of our kids will carry it on past us," Salem said. "It's been great. I'm so glad that I made this decision to come here."

Besides excelling on the diamond and in the classroom, Salem takes time out to give back to the community.

In 2006, Salem was named to the Good Works Team and continues to make giving back to the community one of his top priorities.

"I feel like with were I am in life I have a responsibility to give back to people. I've been like that my whole life, and I've always just loved to be able to aspire and influence kids," Salem said.

When his career at Alabama is over, Salem would love to continue his baseball career.

"I'd love to be playing baseball - that's my ultimate goal. Whatever team picks me up, I'm happy with that. I'll become a fan immediately," said Salem.

Salem's leadership and hitting ability will be crucial if Alabama wants to make a run at an SEC Championship.

"[He's] a great student, but this guy cares very much for the team and he wants what's best for the team," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "He's my go-to guy."

(C) 2007 The Crimson White via CSTV U-WIRE

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