The next match up we have features two footballers from different eras. On one hand we have Shane Vereen, a workhorse of a running back who was overshadowed by Jahvid Best but really shone when given his chance. I mean he almost single-handedly won the 2009 Big Game which I am sure many readers here will not soon forget.
On the other side we have my personal favorite Cal player of all-time, former QB Troy Taylor. Troy played for the Bears in the late '80's and led them to some pretty good seasons.
It should be interesting to see how the voting shakes out in this one but I suspect that Vereen moves on solely on the strength of his epic Big Game performance. This match up is in the Pete Newell Region and the winner will move on to face Russell White. Full bracket here. Full write ups after the jump. Voting ends on Friday. GO BEARS!
(8) Shane Vereen
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.
(9) Troy Taylor
Troy Taylor came to Cal in 1986 and midway through his first season, he became the Golden Bears starting quarterback. Taylor went on to set 17 school passing records, all of which remained intact for 10 years. Included in that group are passing yardage (8,126), total offense (8,236) and touchdown passes (51).
Taylor was a fourth round draft choice of the New York Jets in 1990 and spent the 1990 and '91 seasons there as Ken O'Brien's back-up. He then spent part of the '92 season with the Miami Dolphins.
After his playing career ended, he went into coaching and ended up back at Cal from 1996-99, working with the Bears' receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks. After some time away to work at his High School alma mater he returned to Cal to be the color analyst for the football radio broadcasts, a position that he has held since 2005.
On a personal note: As a young and impressionable 8/9 year old just learning to love all things Cal, going to one of my first games and seeing Taylor play and getting a set of Cal trading cards that featured him were a huge highlight. He was definitely the first Cal player I was a huge fan of and for that he always holds a special place.