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Anderson's Journey Takes Him Back to Cal

October 14, 2020
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Former Cal running back CJ Anderson, who starred for the Bears in 2011-12 after transferring from Oakland’s Laney College, went on to a successful eight-year NFL career before recently retiring. Now he’s coming back to where it all began as a volunteer offensive quality control coach at Cal.

What brought him back to Berkeley and the East Bay where it all began?

“Eight years in the league, I had fun,” said Anderson. “I looked into what I wanted to get into. I’ve always had a lot of coaches who were in the league -Coach Kubiak, Coach McVay...Wade Phillips, Jack Del Rio -a bunch of coaches who said I’d make a good coach one day, I think because of the kind of player I was.

“I played in three Super Bowls, won a Super Bowl, made it to the Pro Bowl, made enough money, you can say. We (Anderson and his family) thought about if there was anything left to accomplish...we thought, ‘Why not help the younger generation and get into coaching?”

After totalling 1,644 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground on 206 rushes for an average of 7.4 yards per carry to earn first-team All-American, All-State and All-NorCal Conference honors at Laney, Anderson rushed for 1,135 yards rushing at Cal on 198 carries for an average of 5.73 yards per carry, scoring 12 touchdowns on the ground, including a 68-yard td run vs. UCLA as a 2012 senior. Anderson also totalled 22 receptions for 350 yards and two touchdown catches, including a 74-yard td catch at Arizona State as a junior.

Anderson noted that he’d likely have had the opportunity to be paid as a coach at the high school or collegiate level but opted to start his career as a volunteer assistant at Cal instead as part of his bigger plan.

“For me, I’ve got bigger aspirations as being a coach, what I want to do in my life,” said Anderson. “The good thing is, I have a little experience with 7-on-7 organizations, helping out with kids, checking their grades. The recruiting aspect is something I’ll have to learn, so I thought this opportunity will be amazing for me.”

Though Anderson won’t be allowed to do any direct recruiting, he can learn the ropes at his alma mater and provide the staff with the extra credibility of having a young former NFL star running back on it’s staff.

“Another thing,” noted Anderson. “I worked with Bill Musgrave and had one of my best years under Bill. So Bill knows me and how I work. When you know that you’re familiar with something -and obviously, I was familiar with two different things:  The offensive system that Bill is doing and then obviously UC Berkeley since I was a student athlete there.”

Anderson’s journey to Cal as a young running back closely mirrors that of Cal senior running back Marcel Dancy, who grew up in Oakland and starred at Laney just little more than a half decade after Anderson paved the way for his success at Laney and Cal.

“I knew Marcel when he was a player at Laney,” noted Anderson. “When I used to come back as a player and I’d go back to Laney -obviously (Laney HC) Coach Beam helped me tremendously. It’s funny to see him on Last Chance U. It’s the same John Beam. The John Beam you got to see on the TV was the same John Beam who cussed me out, too. 

“I knew Marcel at Laney when he was young, when he was a freshman. I was just telling him about me bussing out from Vallejo to Oakland, what it takes with the hard work and dedication, the classwork and the things you have to do.

“When the time came around when he was getting ready to come to Cal, I was really excited. But I also told him what that opportunity brings, what UC Berkeley brings outside of football as a whole. So when me and ‘Cel talk, it’s different than with the other backs in the room. It’s more of a personal level since I’ve known him since he was 17, 18 years old. To see him become the young man that he is today and to take advantage of some of the resources he took advantage of outside of UC Berkeley that we talked about, it’s good to see that.”

Cal head coach Justin Wilcox has welcomed the opportunity to bring in the personable former Bear and sees the benefit of having a former Cal athlete and NFL standout bringing his unique take to the program.

“He wants to get into coaching and this is a great opportunity for him to see kind of the big picture of what all that entails in terms of the off-the-field stuff, which is huge part of it,” said Wilcox. “When it comes to engaging with the players, the scouting, recruiting and academics, all that goes along with coaching outside the X’s and O’s.

“It is different, going from being a player to a coach. Somebody who has done it and been there and been really successful. You have that as soon as you walk in. But ultimately, for the players that you’re coaching, it’s consistency over time. That’s what they’re all looking for.”

Anderson likes what he sees in the running back room with the mix of experience and young talent.

“The room right now is competitive, really strong,” said Anderson. “I think Coach (Aristotle) Thompson -AT- is doing a hell of a job with those guys in there. It’s just me giving my input here and there when we’re in meetings and things like that. The ultimate goal is to help out the whole offense.”

Discussion from...

Anderson's Journey Takes Him Back to Cal

4,684 Views | 6 Replies | Last: 12 days ago by MSaviolives
01Bear
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To quote the great Danny Zuko, "I got chills! They're multiplying!"
BearNIt
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Love having CJ back on campus to mentor the running backs. Never hurts to have a Super Bowl-winning back who knows what it takes to be successful at the collegiate and pro levels.
dmh65
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Will he bring any of that Ron Gould coaching magic? I wonder if a spot opens up on the offensive staff after this year, if he would stay another year and take an on the field coaching coaching job.

Welcome back CJ! Always enjoyed watching you. The time you had with the Rams after Gurley got hurt was amazing, but of course your Cal time too. Best of luck to you!
Civil Bear
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Sounds like a great fit Welcome CJ!
01Bear
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dmh65 said:

Will he bring any of that Ron Gould coaching magic? I wonder if a spot opens up on the offensive staff after this year, if he would stay another year and take an on the field coaching coaching job.

Welcome back CJ! Always enjoyed watching you. The time you had with the Rams after Gurley got hurt was amazing, but of course your Cal time too. Best of luck to you!

Maybe the graduate assistant position might open up? If so, maybe he could apply for that position (I'm assuming he already earned his undergraduate degree at Cal).
MSaviolives
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Great guy. Great story for him going from JC to two Super Bowls. Glad to have him.
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