Best Amateur Athlete, College

Shane Vereen

Primarily known for two years as megastar tailback Jahvid Best’s backup, Vereen came into his own last year and won a special place in Old Blues’ hearts with an epic performance against archrival Stanford. When Best (a first-round NFL draft pick now with the Detroit Lions) went down with a season-ending injury midway through the 2009 season, many Cal fans were despondent. But the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Vereen stepped up in a major way, running for 159 yards in his first game as starter. He followed that up with a school-record 42 carries for 193 yards against Stanford in the annual Big Game in Palo Alto, rushed for 122 yards in the Poinsettia Bowl, and finished the season with 14 touchdowns and an average of better than five yards per carry. When the 2010 season gets underway this fall in Strawberry Canyon, Vereen will try to lead Cal back into the national rankings. But, this time, he won’t be taking anyone by surprise.

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