The 2013 NFL draft had just ended, and the names of 23 running backs had been called. None of them was Cal’s C.J. Anderson.
But a few hours later, the Denver Broncos reached out, offering Anderson a free-agent contract, which he accepted.
The decision, however, made no sense to Anderson’s junior college coach.
“Why would you sign with Denver?” Laney’s John Beam recalled thinking. “You’re never going to get the ball. They’ve got Peyton Manning (at quarterback), and they’re going to throw the ball every time.”
Twenty months later, the Broncos and Anderson couldn’t be happier. Of those 23 running backs drafted in 2013, Anderson has rushed for more yards than all but Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Eddie Lacy of the Green Bay Packers.
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Click here to read about the philosophy teacher who helped alter Anderson’s academic path.
Ex-Bears in Beast Mode
It’s been quite an NFL season for four ex-Cal running backs, who have combined for 4,862 yards rushing and receiving and 36 touchdowns:
• C.J. ANDERSON, Broncos: A surprise during the second half of the season after carrying the ball just 17 times in Denver’s first eight games, Anderson is 18th in the NFL with 762 rushing yards and five touchdowns and has caught 32 passes for 304 yards and two more TDs.
• JUSTIN FORSETT, Ravens: In his first year with Baltimore, Forsett is enjoying his best NFL season. The 29-year-old is sixth in the league with 1,147 rushing yards and eight touchdowns and has caught 42 passes for 246 yards more.
• MARSHAWN LYNCH, Seahawks: In his ninth NFL season, Lynch has topped 1,000 yards for the sixth time, including the past four seasons with the reigning Super Bowl champions. His 2014 numbers: Third in the NFL with 1,246 yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 34 receptions for 334 yards and four TDs.
• SHANE VEREEN, Patriots: The 25-year-old is having his most productive season with New England. Vereen has rushed for 390 yards and two TDs and caught a career-best 49 passes for 433 yards and three scores.