There are a lot of ways to describe former Cal running back Justin Forsett. NFL scouts are using terms like "change of pace" and "3rd down back". Throughout his college career, the former Arlington (Tex.) standout was given titles like "back-up" and "super-sub". However, the only title right now that matters to the former Bear is Starting Tailback in the 2008 Senior Bowl today.
Ask any Cal coach about Forsett and you will get an earful about pride, hard-work, and leadership. Few players who have ever worn the Blue & Gold under California head coach Jeff Tedford gave more than Forsett everyday in practice, and then carried that out to the field. His teammates raved about him throughout his career, with his fellow running backs wanting him to be noticed for his abilities and his blockers wanting to carve large holes in defenses for him.
Forsett was a first-team All Pac-10 selection this past year, compiling 1,550 yards on the ground to go along with a league-high 15 rushing touchdowns. The 5-foot-8 senior, who logged 3,224 yards during his tenure at Cal, had nine 100-yard games in 2007 (15 for his career), including a 164-yard performance against the league's second-best rush defense (USC) and 150 yards against the league's top-rated rush defense (Oregon State). He registered 132 yards, including a game-clinching 44-yard burst down the sidelines to ice a victory over Washington State. He also logged a career-best three rushing touchdowns against Louisiana Tech to go along with 152 yards on the ground.
There are plenty of highlights for Forsett to remember about Cal. He'll briefly reflect about certain moments of his career, but right now, memories are the furthest thing from his mind. For Forsett, who was told he couldn't play college football - who was told he couldn't be an every-down back - the future is happening right now.
"The NFL, wow, you know, it is right here in front of me," Forsett said, fresh off his last practice in Mobile (Ala.) in preparation for today's Senior Bowl. "My hard-work is paying off. Every day, you know, I just keep running hard. I haven't changed anything about how I prepare."
"It is nice to be the starting tailback in the Senior Bowl, that's for sure. It is nice to have earned it. But honestly, this is just one step."
NFL scouts have certainly noticed Forsett, including Rivals correspondent Frank Coyle, who is a nationally known NFL scout who publishes Draft Insiders' Digest.
"Forsett displayed explosiveness and fine vision throughout the week," Coyle wrote. "He was able to consistently get to the second level and make plays. He also caught the ball well and got into his routes easily. He is well-rounded and completed a fine week of workouts. He should be ready to shine in this game. If he does, he could move into the second tier of running backs in this deep class."
"Some of the scouts have talked to me after practice," Forsett added. "The feedback has been real encouraging. You know, I'm making my dream coming true. I'm almost touching it. It is a good situation."
"My parents have been down here most of the week too, so it has just been a great week. I'm honestly having a great time."
After the Senior Bowl, Forsett's next big date is back in Berkeley, where Memorial Stadium will host its annual Pro Day during the first week of March. As he's done for the past 4 years, Forsett will work with long-time Cal running back coach Ron Gould to prepare himself for that event, plus the combines leading up to the 2008 NFL Draft.
"Coach Gould, you know, he's done so much for me," Forsett added. "Just bringing all the stuff he's taught me to practice every day. The blocking techniques and finishing my runs - those are all the things that you have to do and commit to."
A.W Prince is the senior writer and publisher of BearTerritory. He pens numerous recruiting features, including "The Weekly Spin", on some of the most talented and highly sought after student-athletes in the country. Along with his recruiting work, Prince has photographed a number of future Div. 1 student-athletes for exclusive Rivals photo segments and Videography's.