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Former Cal Star Joins Staff As Volunteer Assistant

Oct 19, 2020
C.J. Anderson starred at running back for the Bears, and now is back with the program as a volunteer assistant..

When considering the options of how to pursue a coaching career, former Cal standout and NFL Super Bowl winner C.J. Anderson ultimately decided to come home.
Anderson, who rushed for 1,135 yards and 12 touchdowns during his two seasons in Berkeley before launching a highly successful seven-year NFL career, has joined Cal's staff as a volunteer quality control assistant for the offense in 2020. In his role, Anderson won't provide any on-field instruction but will still engage with the team's players and coaches in other ways.
"We're excited to have him," Cal head coach Justin Wilcox said. "Being a guy that's been through it here at Cal, he will be a resource for our players. The experience he's garnered along the way will be good."
While Anderson's success at Cal and in the NFL should give him immediate credibility, the former running back is hoping the experience will benefit him just as much as the team. Anderson, who retired as a player last month, hopes to become a collegiate head coach someday and his role at Cal will allow him to consume many of the off-field operations he will undoubtedly need to learn to further his career.
"I can sit back and learn a lot from good coaches," Anderson said. "I would love to run my own program one day. I've learned from a lot of great coaches and a lot of great players. I've spent my offseasons with a lot of great coaches. I think the ultimate goal here is how to connect, how to talk to kids, how to help kids when they are going through certain things."
Anderson came to Cal in 2011 after two years at Laney College in Oakland and enjoyed a productive career, especially in 2012 when he amassed 790 rushing yards. Anderson shared time with Isi Sofele  as the team's top running back in each of his two years with the Bears.
He went undrafted in 2013 but was signed by the Denver Broncos and immediately played in the Super Bowl as a rookie. The following year, he was named to the Pro Bowl after earning 1,173 yards from scrimmage with 10 touchdowns.
Anderson won Super Bowl 50 just down the road at Levi's Stadium in 2015, scoring on a 2-yard touchdown run as the Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers, 24-10. He became a 1,000-yard rusher in 2017, accumulating 1,007 yards with three touchdowns.
Anderson also played for the Panthers, Rams and Lions before announcing his retirement. He made another Super Bowl with the Rams following the 2018 season.
"It is different going from being a player to a coach. There's that credibility that they have done it," Wilcox said. "He's somebody that's done it, been there and been really successful."
Anderson said he was also intrigued by being reunited with new Cal offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, who served in that same role with the Broncos when Anderson had his 1,000-yard rushing season in 2017.
"I was familiar with two different things – the offensive system that Bill is doing, and UC Berkeley because I was a student-athlete there at one point in my life," Anderson said. "When you're familiar with things, it makes it a lot easier. I was familiar with those two things, so I took this opportunity now to help with my future goals."
One of Anderson's primary motivations for coaching is the potential to make a lasting impact on young people. Anderson started the Dreams Never Die Foundation in 2017, aimed at providing academic and athletic coaching and mentorship programs to low-income youth.
Anderson has already served as a mentor of sorts to current Cal running back Marcel Dancy, who like Anderson also came to Cal after a stint at Laney College.
"He showed me and told me how Laney would be and how Cal would be," Dancy said. "He's somebody I can get advice from when it comes to the game."
"I think that needs to be the most important thing – developing the young men into men," Anderson said. "We always hear about the first-round picks and the second-round picks. What you don't hear about is the guy who didn't want to play in the National Football League. Those are just as much success stories as the NFL success stories. That's probably the ultimate goal with me. It's trying to get these kids to understand that there is more than football."