The story of Justin Forsett is well-known by now; Notre Dame pulled a scholarship offer from him close to signing day, leaving him, his coaches, and family members to scramble to find another school for him. One of Forsett's tapes found its way to the Cal coaching staff, and he became one of the last players to sign with the 2004 recruiting class. While the Bears were deep at tailback with J.J. Arrington, Marshawn Lynch, Marcus O'Keith, and Terrell Williams, it was assumed that Forsett would redshirt; yet he emerged as one of the surprises of fall camp when the coaching staff decided that they were going to play him.
He made a contribution right away, scoring a touchdown in his first game against Air Force, recovering a blocked punt for a touchdown against Washington later that year, and playing well on special teams.
During his sophomore year, he stepped in when Lynch had early-season injury woes, and had 235 yards against New Mexico State, and finished the season with 999 yards.
Last year, continuing his role as backup, he had 100-yard games against Oregon and Texas A&M enroute to 626 yards.
Under Jeff Tedford, Cal's running backs have a long history of playing well as understudies and going on to have outstanding years as the lead back, and Forsett is the latest in a line of superb backs who've played that role, following Adimchinobe Echemandu, Arrington, and most recently, Lynch.
With a solid year, Forsett should finish somewhere in the top five in most of Cal's single season and career rushing leaders. Yet he's accomplished enough in his career that with an outstanding year, he could end up being of the Golden Bears' all-time greats.
|1||Russell White (90-92)||663||3367||5.1|
|2.||Marshawn Lynch (04-06)||490||3230||6.6|
|3.||Joe Igber (99-02)||678||3124||4.6|
|4.||Chuck Muncie (73-75)||549||3052||5.6|
|5.||Paul Jones (75, 77-79)||715||2930||4.1|
|6.||J.J. Arrington (03-04)||396||2625||6.6|
|7.||John Olszewski (50-52)||416||2504||6.0|
|8.||Reynard Rutherford (92-95)||491||2256||4.6|
|9.||Lindsey Chapman (91-93)||444||2190||4.9|
|10.||John Tuggle (79-82)||434||1813||4.2|
Outlook: Given Cal's history of having six consecutive years with 1,000-yard rushers, Forsett's chances of climbing this list are excellent. If he finishes the season with 1,100 to 1,300 yards, he should finish somewhere between #4 Chuck Muncie and #6 J.J. Arrington. Yet it's not out of the question that Forsett could have a breakout year and climb to the top of the list. He'd need 1,694 yards to break Russell White's record. Over the course of a 13-game season, that would be a 130.3 yard average,a mark which has only been exceeded by J.J. Arrington. The one game that'll be an indicator of whether 3,367 is a realistic target is the Louisiana Tech game. Tech had the second-worst run defense in the NCAA last season, giving up 225.4 yards a game and 5.7 yards a carry. What's even better is that they have 10 starters returning on defense.
Outlook: Six of the entries on this list have come during the Jeff Tedford era, and in 2005 Forsett came close to making it a seventh while seeing primarily reserve duty. With a 12 game schedule, Forsett would just have to average 87 yards a game to make this list, with 13 games, he'd only have to average 80 yards a game. Even with a liberal substitution policy at running back, Forsett should be able to make this list, the only question is how high. Five of the Tedford-era running backs have averaged more than 100 yards a game during the season, and the one who didn't fell just short. If Forsett keeps pace, he should be able to crack the top five.
|1||Jerry Drew, 1954 vs. Oregon St.||283||11|
|2||John Olszewki, 1951 s. Washington St.||269||20|
|3||J.J. Arrington, 2004 vs. Southern Miss.||261||31|
|4.||Justin Forsett, 2005 vs. New Mexico St.||235||31|
|5.||Paul Jones, 1978 vs. Washington St.||232||46|
|6.||Russell White, 1991 vs. USC||229||23|
|7.||Joe Igber, 2002 vs. Stanford||226||26|
|8.||Russell White, 1992 vs. San Jose St.||216||19|
|9.||Chuck Muncie, 1975 vs. Oregon||207||26|
|10.||Gary Fowler, 1968 vs. Hawaii||206||27|
Outlook: In 2005, Forsett took advantage of an injury to Marshawn Lynch, to have an outstanding game against one of the worst run defenses in the country that year. He'll have a terrific chance to add an entry to this list against Louisiana Tech. Last year, the Bulldogs surrendered 476 yards on the ground to San Jose State. The Bears generally ran well during the conference, but did especially well against Oregon (235 yds), Washington (195 yds), Washington State (177 yds), and UCLA (167 yds.). Forsett's best game last year was his 27-carry, 163-yard effort against Oregon.
Career Rushing TDs
|1.||Russell White (90-92)||663||3367||5.1||35|
|2.||Chuck Muncie (73-75)||549||3052||5.6||32|
|3.||Marshawn Lynch (04-06)||490||3230||6.6||29|
|4.||Paul Jones (75, 77-79)||715||2930||4.1||22|
|5.||Lindsey Chapman (91-93)||444||2190||4.9||22|
|6.||J.J. Arrington (03-04)||396||2625||6.6||20|
|7.||John Tuggle (79-82)||434||1813||4.2||16|
|8.||Joe Igber (99-02)||678||3124||4.6||16|
|9.||John Olszewski (50-52)||416||2504||6.0||14|
|10.||Reynard Rutherford (92-95)||491||2256||4.6||13|
Outlook: Cal has generally liked their chances when using Forsett in goal-line situations, and it's likely that he'll continue the four-year streak of lead running backs with double-digit touchdowns. This means that he should finish in the middle - somewhere around the 20-to-22 touchdown mark. For him to break into the top three, he'd have to score at least 18 touchdowns, which would be a school record.
Single-season rushing TDs
Outlook: After getting six touchdowns in backup duty in 2005, it would appear that with consistent work, Forsett should be able to easily break into the top 10 here. Yet it should be noted that during each year of the Tedford era, the backup tailback has gotten a lot of carries, and it's still to be determined how much James Montgomery, Tracy Slocum, or any of the reserves will be deployed in short yardage situations. How well they do will determine whether Forsett barely makes this list or shoots to the top.
Career 100-yard rushing games
Outlook: Forsett has an outstanding chance of making the top three, and a good chance of finishing the season atop the list. In 2003 through 2006, the Bears' ground game averaged 168, 257, 235, and 163 yards a game. Whether relegating the spread-option offense from main entree choice to the salad bar scrap heap will help the Bears run with more gusto remains to be seen, but no matter what the Bears ran in 2005 or 2006, Forsett was able to be productive.
These charts were taken from the 2007 California Football Media Guide which can be found online here, ordered through the ticket office, and can also be purchased before the game at the Cal Student Store and at vendors around the stadium. A big thanks goes out to Herb Benenson, John Sudsbury, Chris Deconna and the rest of Cal's Media Relations staff for their efforts in putting this together.
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