Drafted By God
Justin Forsett heard time and again what he couldn't do, but he followed a singular voice
Oddly enough, Justin Forsett's unlikely journey to the NFL as a running back for the Baltimore Ravens began in his basement, on his knees in tears.
It was his senior year in high school, and Forsett, who had rushed for nearly 5,000 yards in his last two seasons at Grace Prep Academy in Texas, hadn't gotten one scholarship offer from a major college.
Frustrated and disappointed, Forsett was alone in his basement, praying.
“I was down in my basement crying,” Forsett said. “I was saying to God, 'What's going on?'”
Two of his high school teammates had gotten big scholarship offers, one to Miami and the other to Purdue. Forsett couldn't understand why he was overlooked.
“I was always doing the right thing,” Forsett said. “I was praying. I was going to church. I was active in church. And all the good things were happening to them. I was wondering, 'God, what's going on.'”
Searching for an answer, Forsett opened his Bible.
“I said to God, 'You've got to show me something,'” Forsett said.
He opened his Bible to Proverbs 3 and got the assurance he needed.
“Lean not on your own understanding, but trust God with all your heart,” Forsett said, quoting the verse. “I said okay, I'm trusting You. So I kept working, trusting, praying.”
Eventually, Forsett got one major college offer. It came from the University of California, but the offer was made in the spring, well past the national signing date. Forsett was a backup plan for the Bears, but he proved himself again at Cal.
“I just kept believing and praying,” Forsett said. “And down the road Cal offered me a scholarship.”
The late scholarship offer wasn’t too big of a surprise. At 5-foot-8, Forsett has heard the same thing all his life: “You're too small to play football.”
“I've been told that more times than I can count,” Forsett said.
He was always the smallest guy on the field—never the fastest or the biggest. But he's always had a lot of heart and a lot of faith, both in prayer and in God.
“People have always said what I can't do,” Forsett said. “And God is always saying, 'Listen to what I say.'”
At every step of Forsett's journey to the NFL, he's surprised his coaches. At Grace Preparatory, he scored 63 touchdowns in two seasons. At the University of California, he rushed 5.1 yards per carry his senior year. And with the Seattle Seahawks, he averaged over 4 yards per carry in three seasons, mostly as a backup.
In 2007, Forsett was the Seattle Seahawks’ seventh-round draft pick. Going into preseason practice, Forsett was fourth on the depth chart. The Seahawks had already signed three veteran running backs: Julius Jones, Maurice Morris and TJ Duckett—players Forsett had watched on TV. Normally, the Seahawks only keep three running backs.
“I said, 'Okay God, here we go. You haven't failed me yet,’” Forsett says. “It's been a blessing ever since.”
The son of a minister, Forsett grew up going to church. But it wasn't until he was in middle school that he accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior.
“I was always one of those kids trying to fit in at school with how I dressed and how I talked,” Forsett said. “I was trying to fit in. One day after listening to a sermon, I realized that my identity is in Him. I'm a King's Kid. I don't have to please people. My number one goal is to please Him in all I do.”
Forsett knows the importance of being a seeker, of reading the Bible and praying every day. As a famous NFL running back, temptations are everywhere.
“Since you have the flesh and the spirit battling every day, I'm constantly feeding the spirit that God's put in me,” Forsett said. “So, when I come against temptation my spirit is strong enough to say okay this is not for me and step away.”
Nearly every day, Forsett Tweets a Bible verse and makes a comment about his faith and relationship with God.
“I do it because it helps keep me accountable,” Forsett said. “Also, the Bible says one waters and one plants, but without God there is no increase. I'm just doing my job and trying to plant a seed. A guy might open up a Bible verse that I've put up and his life could be changed.”
It's certainly changed Forsett's life.
Forsett understands the power of forgiveness, of God's grace and mercy. He knows that no sin—no matter what a person has done—is too big to be forgiven by God.
“Think of Paul in the Bible,” Forsett said. “He killed Christians. And he became of the greatest apostles. He was an awesome servant of God. God forgives. There is hope in Him.”
Mr. Gail Wood is a longtime sportswriter who has written for many publications including USA Today and War Cry. Mr. Wood resides in Lacey, WA.