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Big Game legend vs. gold-medal-winning Olympian. The winner of this matchup certainly deserves a spot in the championship round of the Pappy Waldorf region. Check out the most recently updated bracket here.
Royrules22: "This guy carried the ball 40+ times against a top-10 Stanfurd team on the Farm and helped us pull of a monumental upset. That alone makes him deserve this."
TwistNHook: Shane Vereen might be the most interesting runner of the Tedford era. He always had Jahvid Best ahead of him, but in the tail end of 2009 and 2010 managed to show why there was no real drop off from Best to Vereen.
The first memory that immediately pops into my mind and, most likely the minds of all others, is Vereen's yeoman performance in the 2009 Big Game. A legendary performance.
Rushing No Gain Loss Net TD Lg Avg ------------------------------------------------- Vereen, Shane 42 199 6 193 3 36 4.6
Watching the game in person, you didn't really have an opportunity to reflect on how amazing a day Vereen had. He took the ball every which way, including multiple Wildcat options. He scored 3 TDs and willed Cal to victory that day.
Berkelium97: My fondest memory of Shane Vereen will always be the legendary 2009 Big Game. But my first memory of him was the Michigan State game in '08. I was quite excited to see him play in his first game--particularly since he played high school a couple miles from where I grew up. In fact he was one of the highest recruited players ever to come out of Valencia High School, so I was really looking forward to seeing him hit the field. Anyway, back to 2008. Throughout the second half of the game, it seemed like Cal was never quite able to put the game away. With just under 5 minutes to go, Michigan State once again made it a one-possession game. Best returned the kickoff, so Vereen was the RB sent out for Cal's play on offense. I remember thinking that all we had to do was burn the clock. A five-minute drive would seal the game and certainly seemed possible. Vereen, of course, had other plans. He didn't burn the clock. Instead, he burned the entire Michigan State defense with an 81-yard run that sealed the victory. It was clear after that day that we had a lightning and lightning combination at running back--two guys who were capable of breaking free on any given run.
Four weeks later Vereen gave us a first glimpse of his incredible durability--a trait we often felt was lacking in Best. Against ASU Vereen ran the ball 27 times and caught 5 passes. In his entire career at Cal Best never topped 27 carries. Vereen did it in his first start and kept the offense chugging along. Vereen was an excellent complement to Best because he could take a pounding and still churn out yards. The Best-Vereen tandem might have been the best of the Tedford era, thanks to the unique combination of skills they had.
Solarise: Shane Vereen off the field is just as impressive as his accomplishments on the field. He spent a summer interning at CSN Bay Area and earned lauded praise for his maturity and work ethic:
"It's remarkable. He's just Shane to us," CSN Bay Area news executive Doug Brown said. "We don't treat him any differently than any other intern. Around here, he's just one of 20 interns we have that is willing to rip scripts and all the other stuff that interns are supposed to be doing." The fact that Vereen was interested in an internship says a lot about his perspective. He is expected to have an NFL career someday, whether he leaves Cal after this season as a junior or waits until the 2012 draft. But Vereen says he wants his life to be about more than football, and broadcasting is something that has always interested him. His father, Henry, works in the television industry as a video engineer.
"I understand that football is just one part of my life," Vereen said. "When that is all said and done, I'm not going to sit at home and do nothing. Anything can happen. You can get hurt anytime. It's good to have options, especially an option that I've been interested in for a long time." One of the highlights of Vereen's internship so far was holding the microphone for a news conference with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom during an event to kick off the World Cup. He returned to the newsroom and worked with producers to put the story together, just like a regular field reporter.
More than a star player on the field, Shane Vereen was the epitome of a Cal student athlete.
Shane's gone on to the NFL and has had a nice couple of years with the New England Patriots, even delivering a highlight reel run against the Houston Texans and developing from a role player to a vital part of the rushing attack.
The feel good story of the US Swim trial, Anthony Ervin is again an Olympian. After winning a gold medal in the 50 freestyle at the 2000 Olympics, Tony (his preferred name to friends) retired in 2003 (after the end of his Cal career) when he was 22 years old to explore "other interests".
After joining a rock band in New York and various other youthful exploits (that some articles try to make a bigger deal than others), he eventually found himself teaching swimming to kids in both New York City and Oakland. Last year he began training again, and qualified for London by finishing second in the 50 free (by narrowly edging out fellow Cal bear, Nathan Adrian). Between his colorful sleeve tattoos and a more slender body type, Anthony stands out in the pool.
Also of note, Anthony auctioned off his 2000 Olympic gold medal on eBay to aid survivors of the 2004 tsunami. Anthony did eventual finish his Cal degree in English in 2010 and is now currently in the Cal graduate program for sport, culture and education.
Event: 50 freestyle
2nd time Olympian (In Sydney 2000 Olympics won gold in 50 Free and silver in 4x100 Free relay)
Cal career: 1999-2002
A great sentimental comeback story (which NBC will surely milk in the Olympics), Anthony won a gold back in 2000 and proceed to take almost a decade off from swimming. After teaching kids to swim an year ago, Ervin decided to make a comeback and was able to finish second in 50 Free (narrowly edging out Nathan Adrian by 8/100th of a second).
Anthony's slightly different training method/mentality is nicely explained in this USA Swimming article here. Interestingly, the article also conjectured about the success of Cal swimming:
Cal Swimming has long been at the forefront of alternative training approaches. Which could explain why they are – and have been -- so successful. Their two most individualistic and strongest personalities, Ervin and 29-year-old Natalie Coughlin, are also two of the sports most inventive, innovative thinkers. They tinker. They ask. They learn. They reflect. It’s no secret they both are still involved in the sport at an age once considered "ancient."
Read more about Anthony in this SFGate article here.
Grantland has the following interesting short blurb about him:
Enigmatic 31-year-old who won gold and silver in Sydney, retired from swimming in 2003 at age 22, and sold his gold medal to raise money for the Indian Ocean tsunami relief. (Lost his silver medal during his notoriously nomadic travels.) Returned to competition last year. Has such poor eyesight that a competitor had to tell him he had qualified; when Brendan Hansen congratulated him afterward he squinted and responded, "Who is that?" Speaks in full paragraphs, but also says things like "I just want to keep this fun train chugging."
Who advances to the championship round of the Pappy Waldorf region?
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