EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (KMSP) - Duluth native CJ Ham scored a touchdown for the very team he grew up cheering for as a kid in the Vikings first preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“It was a dream come true to be on the field in general, to be able to score was just even better,” said Ham. “I can definitely say after the game, my phone blew up and it’s just really awesome to see all that support that I have from the state.”
He’s also feeling support from his teammates.
“I was happy for him, for a guy to go out there and get the touchdown. I hope he continues to do so,” said Xavier Rhodes, Vikings cornerback.
“Anytime a young guy gets going, he maximizes opportunity and he’s going out there and doing the right things, running the ball hard, pass rushing good, running to the ball, doing all the right things, that’s all you can ask for,” said Everson Griffen, Vikings defensive end.
The pride of Denfeld High School, Ham is an undrafted rookie from Augustana University and comes to the Vikings team with something to prove.
His senior year, he led the Augustana Vikings with career highs in rushing yards and touchdowns, 1097 yards and 16 touchdowns respectively. Those numbers were also tops in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in both categories.
He says he learned how to work harder than the person in front of him in college and other things helped him too.
“I’d say it was experience you know and we had the same team for three years and we finally started to get it together a little bit and had a really good team, really good offensive line. They made my job really easy when they’re blocking that well, so I was just fortunate enough to be behind them,” said Ham.
With a preseason score under his belt, Ham’s trying to find his way on the pro level and be a double Viking.
“I think for these young guys that come in, especially undrafted guys, they say ‘wow I can play in this league.’ It gives them a lot of confidence,” said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. “He did a great job blocking the other night, and he ran physical and hard with the ball. I think the confidence factor is the biggest thing.”
“I’m looking for another chance to get my hand on the ball,” said Ham. “I’m just going to go out there when my number’s called and going to go out there and do the right things. That’s the biggest thing, whether it’s special teams or it’s blocking, just carrying the ball, going out there and making sure I’m doing the right thing is key.”
Right now, Ham is appreciating every step of the way.
“It was a dream come true,” he said. “I just wanted an opportunity in the NFL and it just so happened to be the team I grew up watching from the state that I’m from, so it just worked out for me and my family. It was just a blessing every single day to this day when I wake up, I just think it’s a blessing to be here.”