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Forsett turns rejection into NFL success

RENTON, Wash. – Justin Forsett and Charlie Weis have something in common: Both have been dumped by Notre Dame.

Yet unlike the coach fired this week, Forsett is “blessed” to have been rejected by the Irish.

“Oh, man,” the 5-foot-8 Forsett said Wednesday, flashing a smile. “It’s definitely a blessing.”



If Notre Dame had not reneged on a scholarship offer it made to Forsett a few years ago, he wouldn’t have gone at the last minute to California. He wouldn’t have been in a college offense perfectly suited to his quick-cutting skill.

And Forsett would not now be the diminutive dynamo supplying all the pep in the otherwise stagnant Seahawks (4-7), who run the same zone-blocking sets as the Golden Bears.



Ask him if he sneers over Notre Dame, and Forsett just smiles.

“Oh, no, if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to Cal and do the things I was able to accomplish,” he said.

“Everything happens for a reason. I’m a big believer in that. I didn’t understand it at first. I was a little upset about what happened with Notre Dame. People were telling me I couldn’t play because of my size. But everything worked out.”

Forsett has two 100-yard rushing days in the three games since veteran Julius Jones bruised his lung and coughed up blood during a loss at Arizona. Last week at St. Louis, with Jones still too sore, Forsett romped for 130 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns – all career highs. The Seahawks won on the road for the first time in seven tries.

Before that, Seattle had the 30th-ranked rushing offense in the league. It set a franchise low of 4 yards on 13 carries Nov. 22 at Minnesota.

So why isn’t Forsett the Seahawks’ starting running back?

“I understand your question (and) you can’t deny he’s had a couple of really good games with Julius out. And I think you’re right, certainly we need to evaluate that position and find out exactly what he is,” coach Jim Mora said. “But I don’t think that means you just completely eliminate Julius Jones, either, because we still need to evaluate him as well.”

Jones was back practicing Wednesday. A decision on his status for Sunday’s game against San Francisco (5-6) may not come until kickoff.

Forsett thinks he’s going back to the bench. But he’s used to rejection.

Months after they drafted him in the seventh round last year, the Seahawks released him. He played three games on special teams for Indianapolis before the Colts cut him. He re-signed with Seattle last October.

A few winters ago, Buzz Preston, then a running backs coach at Notre Dame, came to suburban Dallas and offered the All-State rusher from Grace Prep in Arlington a scholarship.

Forsett was ready to accept. He scheduled his official visit a week before national signing day. Then … nothing.

Forsett’s father had to call the Irish to find out he’d lost his scholarship.

“They told me they didn’t need me anymore,” Forsett said. “I just had to start my recruiting all over again. It was crazy.”

He didn’t sign until after Cal’s spring game – and only because the Bears lost a player to injury in the game and gave that player a medical redshirt, freeing a scholarship.

Born and raised in Florida, Forsett had never been west of Texas. And Berkeley wasn’t exactly Dallas.

“Yes, a little different,” he said, chuckling. “Just the protests. Always boycotting something. It was weird. I remember one of the first days on campus, it was raining, pouring rain. And there was a nude protest outside my class. Ridiculous.”

He wasn’t a regular starter until his senior season, because star Marshawn Lynch was ahead of him. Yet he still finished third in Cal history with 3,220 yards, in just 13 career starts.

“He’s got a feel for the one cut and go,” Seahawks offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said, adding Forsett knows how to cut against a slanting defense, a common tactic against zone blocking.


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