Hammer Time: Alum C.J. Ham honored with spot in Pro Bowl

All-NSIC South Division Second Team; Academic All-NSIC honors; NSIC Glen Galligan Award recipient; led the NSIC in rushing touchdowns and yards while becoming just the fourth running back at Augustana to rush for 1,000-plus yards in a single season. All of this in his senior year.

After going undrafted out of college, C.J. Ham earned respect at the Vikings’ rookie camp which landed him a spot on the roster. Now, after four years in the league, the Augustana alumnus and current Minnesota Vikings fullback can add Pro-Bowl to his list of accolades.

On Jan. 19, after the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers to advance to the Super Bowl, it was announced that Ham would replace 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the Pro Bowl.

“It’s definitely a dream come true,” Ham said. “I grew up watching the Pro Bowl and watching the best compete. I was honored to be selected with this group.”

One of the players in this group included all-time great quarterback Drew Brees.

“It’s really cool to be mentioned in the same setting as him,” Ham said. “I used to play [as] him on Madden back in his San Diego days. It was special to be out there with him — I mean, he’s been to double-digit pro-bowls.”

This past season, Ham became one of the best blocking fullbacks in the NFL, leading the league in fullback assists. He also made an impact on the field as a pass-catcher. He made 17 catches for 149 yards with one touchdown; he also ran the ball seven times for 17 yards.

“Every athlete wants to be the best at what they want to do,” Ham said. “It’s been a process, but I’ve stayed on track and it’s nice to be able to help the offense.”

Even after his best season in the NFL, Ham still sees room for improvement.

“I’m already thinking about a lot of things,” Ham said. “But I’m always wanting to get better at everything that I do, to be honest with you. Overall I just want to become a more confident player. We all have the ability at the highest level, but it comes down to confidence.”

At Augustana, Ham earned his degree in physical education and health. While there, he also met his wife, Stephanie, who was an all-conference soccer player.

“CJ is one of the best human beings I have ever met,” Augustana football head coach Jerry Olszewski said. “He is genuine, caring, passionate and a servant leader. I would boldly say he was respected by all of his faculty and AU staff. He was selected as a captain by his teammates because of the respect he carried on our campus,”

The Ham’s now have two young girls, Skylar (3) and Stella (1) and live together in Minnesota. Ham said he cherished the ability to be with his family while he was in Orlando for the Pro Bowl.

“The whole football part of it was definitely a great experience,” Ham said. “But the whole fact of bringing our families there makes it even more special. Going to Disney World was my favorite part. Seeing my daughter with all of the Disney princesses, seeing the smile on all of their faces was really cool.”

After graduating, the Hams have continued to stay connected with Augustana and have helped in the community at the Boys and Girls Club in the Minneapolis area.

Ham is currently a free agent and will be looking to sign a new deal this offseason, but he only has one goal in mind.

“At the end of the day I just want to win games and get to the Super Bowl,” Ham said. “That’s the end goal for everybody, get to the big game and everything that comes with it.”

After four years at Augustana, Ham left his football legacy, found his future and learned valuable lessons he will keep for the rest of his life.

“I learned so many different lessons from everybody there,” Ham said. “I really feel like they helped me become the person I am today.”

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