FOXBOROUGH — With their second pick in the second round of the NFL draft, the Patriots took Cal running back Shane Vereen at No. 56 overall.
Vereen, at 5-10 and 210 pounds, is a strong back. He runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and had 31 repetitions in the bench press (225 pounds) for the most among all running backs.
“I think I just see myself coming in as a player looking for an opportunity to play in the game. In any position they need me in, I’ll be more than willing and enthusiastic to do,” Vereen said.
In 2010, Vereen rushed for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns. In three years at Cal, he tallied 2,834 yards and 29 touchdowns to follow the amazing collegiate career of Jahvid Best.
He was a second team All-Pac-10 player last year. And since you were probably wondering, he is indeed related to actor Ben Vereen.
“He is my father’s cousin,” Shane said.
Click the Full Entry button for Vereen’s Q&A with reporters via conference call, as provided by the Patriots’ media relations department.
Q: Shane, do you see yourself coming in as a third round back?
SV: I think I just see myself coming in as a player looking for an opportunity to play in the game. In any position they need me in, I’ll be more than willing and enthusiastic to do.
Q: How would you describe yourself as a running back?
SV: I always take pride in myself in being able to do all things that are called on for a running back: catching the ball, pass protection, running the ball. Anything that is called on me to do I always take pride in doing that to the best of my ability and being good in all of these stages.
Q: Where do you need the most improvement?
SV: I think the area that I most need to improve on is my pass-protection technique.
Q: What do you think it will take for you to get to that level?
SV: I think with the coaching I’ll receive and with the talent I’ll be surrounded by, I think I’ll come along.
Q: Are you familiar with Kevin Faulk and his career?
SV: Yes, I am. I’m somewhat familiar.
Q: From what you have been able to see in his game, are there similarities?
SV: What I remember from watching Kevin Faulk when I was younger is just that he is a back who did anything. I mean, they used him as a back fielder to widen screens, I believe. And I believe he was an every down back, he did a lot of things well. I mean that’s all can really say. I know he was a very, very talented and successful running back.
Q: Do you have any history on special teams?
SV: Yes, I do.
Q: Tell us what you did.
SV: Punt returns, kickoff returns, those are the two main things that I did. I’ve also been a gunner on punts and ran down kickoffs once or twice.
Q: Does it excite you as a running back to come to a team that has such a good passing attack?
SV: There are so many things about the New England Patriots that excite me. To pinpoint one thing wouldn’t do justice to the other things. I’m excited to get there and get rolling.
Q: Where were you when you got the phone call from the Patriots?
SV: I was at home with two of my friends and my family.
Q: Where is home?
SV: Home is in Valencia, Southern California.
Q: Did you have any contact with them pre-draft?
SV: I did meet with them at the combine, and I did have a workout here in California with the Patriots, That’s all the contact I had with them.
Q: Was that with Ivan Fears?
SV: No, it was not. It was with Nick Caserio, in player personnel.
Q: Can you tell us about your internship last summer and what you did?
SV: Sure. I worked for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. What I did was, I just wanted to learn the ins and outs of sports media because that is one of the things I am passionate about and one of my goals. I just wanted to learn the whole background thing and all the work that goes into putting a sports show together.
Q: Can you see a career as a broadcaster when you retire?
SV: I hope so. That’s one of my goals, yes.
Q: What do you do other than play football, Shane?
SV: Other than football, I really just like to relax, have a good time with my friends – play some video games, nothing too exciting.
Q: What’s your favorite video game?
SV: Right now, my favorite video game is NBA 2K11 and Call of Duty.
Q: Are you going to make yourself in Madden tonight and put yourself in a Patriots uniform?
SV: [Laughing] I hadn’t really thought about it, but I might have to, yeah.
Q: Did you vote for Danny Woodhead in the Madden challenge?
SV: [Laughing] I didn’t vote for anybody in the challenge.
Q: Have you played Mortal Kombat?
SV: I haven’t played that game recently, but I enjoy playing it, too.
Q: Do you understand what this has done for your Twitter account?
SV: [Laughing] Anytime I can get over 1,000 [followers] on Twitter, I’m pretty excited.
Q: What kind of offense did they run in college?
SV: It was a pro-style offense. A lot of the things we did at Cal are replicated in the NFL. I’m sure the terminology is different, but a lot of the things we did were duplicated in the NFL.
Q: How much did you learn from Jahvid Best. Did you see any similarities?
SV: We learned so much from each other and that was the biggest thing for us. I think we’re very similar. I think he’s a step or two faster than I am, but our game is very similar. I don’t see many things that are different about the way we play.
Q: Are you related to Ben Vereen?
SV: He is my father’s cousin.