EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –C.J. Ham has come home.
The Vikings announced Tuesday they have signed the running back and Duluth native. In order to create room for Ham, the team waived another Minnesota-born player, safety John Lowdermilk.
Ham signed a free agent contract after participating in the Vikings rookie minicamp this past weekend. His signing gives the Vikings seven players on the 90-man roster with Minnesota hometowns.
Ham played for Augustana University, whose team nickname is also the Vikings. In 2015, he rushed for a career-high 1,097 yards and 16 touchdowns over 12 games.
According to Argus Leader reporter Ian Frazer, Ham played a key role in Augustana's spread offense and, at 5-foot-11 and 235 pounds, was often used in short-yardage situations. Ham was also utilized for zone runs and occasionally as a receiver, ending the season with 39 receptions for 431 yards.
Ham graduated from Duluth Denfeld High School, where he logged 1,873 yards between his junior and senior seasons. After redshirting in 2011 at Augustana, Ham made an impact his freshman season as a running back and fullback. Ham started six games as a junior in 2014 before receiving a nod to full-time starter.
Although Ham hasn't been utilized as a fullback since 2011, his size and bulk could enable him to compete at that position. The Vikings asked him to work at both fullback and running back at minicamp.
"I hadn't gotten into a three-point stance in probably about five years or so," Ham told Frazer. "It was a little different, just trying to play the game from that position and being that low to the ground, and doing the motions and taking the right steps, taking angles at people to cut them off for blocks was just a little different for me."
In addition to returning running backs Adrian Peterson, Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata and fullbacks Zach Line and Blake Renaud, Minnesota signed three running backs as free agents following the NFL Draft: Ham, Brandon Ross and Jhurell Pressley. Ham is the third tryout player to receive a Vikings contract, after former Golden Gopher Troy Stoudermire and Tre Roberson signed Monday.
Ham joins fellow Minnesota natives Marcus Sherels (Rochester), Adam Thielen (Detroit Lakes), Carter Bykowski (Eden Prairie), Isaac Fruechte (Caledonia), Brian Leonhardt (Spring Lake Park) and Terrell Sinkfield (Minnetonka) on the Vikings 90-man roster that will be slimmed to 53 players before the regular season kicks off on Sept. 11.