Playing running back was always a dream for Minnesota Viking C.J. Ham.
“At Augustana it was a dream, it really was a dream and it really didn’t become a reality until my senior year," said Ham.
At Augie he ran with it, literally. Ham is in the Augustana record books after scoring 16 rushing touchdowns in a single season. He is also one of only four running backs to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season in the program's history. After his senior season the Minnesota Vikings took notice, signing the Duluth, Minnesota native as an undrafted free agent.
“If you’re good enough, they will find you. It really is just an opportunity, you just need an opportunity to put your best foot forward. Sometimes you think being at a smaller school, you’re going to be overlooked, but it really takes one scout, one team to give you a chance, and you have to run with it after that," said Ham.
Ham is now entering his fourth NFL season, but it hasn't all been easy. He was hit with a challenge in the 2017 season, playing fullback.
“Duluth ironically wanted me ironically to play fullback, and I was like no I’m a running back. So I came to Augie and I got to live out my running back dreams, which were shortly lived," Ham laughed.
But it’s Ham's versatility that is making him standout.
“I have always prided myself on being a versatile player. You know having the running back background obviously helps me in helping out the team in different ways, getting the ball in my hands, or being in there on third down to pass pro, those things are very familiar to me. I’ve done it my whole life," said Ham.
“C.J. is such a good person, high character, but he is so talented. I mean the things that he can do on the football field are hard to do. To be that multi-dimensional, to run the football, being able to pass protect, being able to get short yardage downs and the block. Be a blocker for a guy that was really a high level tailback, and kind of give up that part of his life, it couldn’t happen to a better guy," said former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway.
Ham's dream of playing for his hometown team also lives for at least another season, as he signed a one-year contract extension in March.
“In this business you have to make sure that you’re going out there putting your best foot forward every single time you’re on the field. It’s a dog eat dog world in the NFL world, so there’s always someone out there coming for your job, coming for your spot. So it shows me that they still have faith in me, and I still have to go out there and prove it again," said Ham.