SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — C.J. Ham re-signed with the Vikings this spring as he enters his fourth season with the team. It’s been a unique journey for the Augustana alum as he’s gone from undrafted rookie into an established veteran.
Coming out of high school, C.J. Ham didn’t want to play as a fullback.
“Duluth wanted me, ironically, to play fullback, and I was like no, I’m a running back. So I came to Augie and got to live out my running back dreams, which were shortly lived,” Vikings Fullback C.J. Ham said.
Following Ham’s second season at Augie, the program underwent a coaching change as Jerry Olszewski took over. Though Olszewski would be the one to grant C.J.’s wish of playing as a running back, he would have an impact on Ham well beyond football.
“It’s not only about football for him. It’s about creating great men, great husbands, great fathers in the future, and secondly, also great football players,” Ham said.
The two have continued to stay in touch since Ham graduated from Augustana. Olszewski has proudly watched Ham live his dream of playing in the NFL, while also starting a family of his own.
“Just really cool to see their family grow and him become a great father, and great husband too. Yeah, we try to stay in touch, and he fills my cup every time I need to be picked a little bit. He helps me with that too,” Olszewski said.
Though Ham’s now an NFL veteran, his former coach still recognizes the same great kid he coached years ago.
“He’s the same guy now. He’s humble, he’s thankful, he’s a great leader. He gives back just like he always has. He understands the blessing that he’s been given, and he doesn’t take it for granted,”Olszewski said.
While his high school self may be mad he’s now playing fullback, Ham remains grateful for the opportunity.
“I don’t necessarily believe in coincidences. I’m here for a reason, and it’s just so nice to be able to share it with my family,” Ham said.
Ham and the Vikings will report to Training Camp in late July, with the first full team pracices set for Friday the 26th.