Justin Forsett is poised to possibly have a breakout year for the Seattle Seahawks.
Entering his fourth NFL season when Seattle opens its quest for an NFC West title against top division rival San Francisco on Sept. 12, the former University of California product is on tap to potentially carry the load at running back for new head coach Pete Carroll.
Forsett has been splitting time with veterans Leon Washington and Julius Jones in the backfield during the preseason, with Carroll stating he will likely use a platoon system to begin the season.
In an interview with Everyday Christian, Forsett said that Carroll has made it clear fighting for playing time is his mantra.
“The most dramatic change with Pete Carroll is the sense of competition,” said Forsett, who played last year for Jim Mora. “(Carroll) has made sure we are loaded with high talent guys at every position and is letting everyone have the opportunity to compete and play. This is exciting because it opens up opportunities for everyone to fight for playing time.”
Regardless of how much time Forsett spends on the gridiron, he is able to smooth out the wildly swinging highs and lows of with an abiding sense of Christian faith.
Forsett grew up in Arlington, Texas, where his father, Rodney, was a minister.
He was a standout at Grace Preparatory Academy where he rushed for nearly 5,000 yards over his junior and senior years. He was seemingly on track to sign with Notre Dame when his offer was pulled off the table. Scrambling for a Division I opportunity, he ultimately ended up at Cal.
“My faith has shaped my development as a student and a football player in a great way,” Forsett said. “In everything I do I seek and trust God so it has made a more confident and poised student and football player.”
At 5-foot-8, Forsett is never the largest player on the field, but at Cal he parlayed his shiftiness into 26 rushing touchdowns and over 3,200 yards rushing. Much of that success came his senior year when he rolled of 15 TDs and 1,546 yards. During his time in Berkeley, he relied on the faith which served him so well growing up.
“Through the times where I felt I was overwhelmed, I made sure I was surrounded by men and women of faith that could encourage me along the way that helped me to stay focused through the test,” Forsett said.
He was drafted by the Seahawks in 2008, only to be cut early on and spend a brief stint in Indianapolis. He returned to Seattle late in the season and became the team’s primary punt returner.
Last year, with more of a regular role as a ball carrier, Forsett had 619 yards on 114 carries for a healthy 5.4 yards per carry average. He also scored four touchdowns. All of that, he believes, was a reward for his persistence and faith.
“I believe (it was a reward),” he said. “I worked really hard and I believe you reap what you sow.”
One of the easiest places to get a handle on Forsett’s faith is online. His Twitter page (@JForsett) is peppered with Bible verses, the most recent on Monday being Exodus 14:14, with Moses speaking to the Israelites prior to the parting of the Red Sea – “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (NIV)
He said his favorite verses are 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, which deals with physically challenging yourself for God, and Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
NFL locker rooms are, generally speaking, accepting of players deeply ingrained in Christian faith, although Forsett isn’t naïve is in knowing some players would just as well keep it away from the field.
“In my case I have found that for the most part people respect and accept Christian athletes in the NFL, but I am sure there are guys that feel (opposed to it),” Forsett said.
And when the season kicks off against the 49ers next weekend, Forsett will be reminded of the impact of faith in the NFL by who isn’t playing. Fellow running back Glen Coffee, who was in line to split time with veteran Frank Gore, abruptly left training camp earlier this month to pursue a career in ministry. While Forsett may not have those same designs for his career, he sees Coffee’s decision as a reflection of walking the same path he is on.
“I was really encouraged to see a man of God be obedient and walk by faith not by sight,” Forsett said.