“This is very exciting for me and my family,” said Shane Vereen. “It’s testament to Cal running backs, a testament to the University of California. I’m just looking forward to this opportunity that I’ve always dreamed of.”
“[When I got the call from Chicago] that was probably the most exciting moment I’ve ever had,” said Conte. “It was the culmination of a whole bunch of different feelings.”
Vereen placed his name all over Cal’s career and single-season record books during his three seasons of action with the Golden Bears from 2008-10 after redshirting as a true freshman in 2007, playing in all 38 games possible during his career at Cal and making 19 starts.
Vereen finished his career ranked among the school’s all-time leaders in rushing touchdowns (29, No. 3-T), total touchdowns (35, No. 4-T), all-purpose yards (4,069, No. 5), rushing yards (2,834, No. 7), 100-yard rushing games (11, No. 7) and scoring (210, No. 9-T). His other final career rushing numbers included 556 carries, a 5.1 yard average per attempt and 74.6 yards per game, with a long rush of 81 yards during his 2008 redshirt freshman campaign. He also had multiple touchdowns in 10 games and had at least one reception in 37 of his 38 contests, including his first 33 which was the longest streak by a FBS running back when it was snapped. He had 100 or more all-purpose yards 20 times, including four 200-plus yard all-purpose contests.
In the single-season record books, his 1,757 all-purpose yards in 2009 ranks sixth, the 13 rushing touchdowns he scored in 2010 are tied for sixth, the 12 rushing touchdowns he posted in 2008 are tied for eighth, and his 1,167 rushing yards and 96 points in 2010 are ninth and tied for ninth.
Vereen earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors in his final collegiate season as a junior in 2010. He was also a first-team All-Pac-10 selection by Phil Steele and second-team according to Scout.com, starting all 12 games and finishing the regular season ranked among the best in the Pac-10 and the nation in both rushing and scoring. His 1,167 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns on the ground and 231 carries were all single-season career bests, while his 5.1 yards per rush average narrowly trailed the single-season career-best 5.2 average he posted in 2009. He ranked fourth in the Pac-10 and 25th nationally with an average of 97.25 rushing yards per game. His 96 points on 16 total touchdowns ranked him tied for fifth in the Pac-10 and tied for 42nd nationally with an average of 8.00 points per game. He scored a career-high-tying three touchdowns in a game twice – vs. UC Davis (two rushing, one receiving) and at Nevada (career-high-tying three rushing) – as well as multiple touchdowns in six of 12 games. He also finished third on the team with three touchdown catches, as well as fourth with 209 receiving yards. His combination of rushing and receiving made him the Pac-10’s fifth-leading all-purpose runner and 55th nationally with an average of 114.67 all-purpose yards per game (1,376 total all-purpose yards). Vereen recorded the highest single-game rushing total of his career at Nevada when he had 198 yards and a career-high-tying three rushing touchdowns on 19 carries, including a season-best 59-yard touchdown run. He finished the season with six 100-yard games.
Vereen was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 player during his 2009 sophomore campaign despite spending most of the campaign as a backup to Heisman Trophy candidate and 2010 NFL Draft first-round pick Jahvid Best. Vereen ended up leading the Bears with 952 yards rushing and 183 carries, and was also voted by teammates as Cal's offensive Bear Backers Co-MVP along with Best. His 12 touchdowns on the ground equaled Best for the team lead, while his 14 overall scores ranked second to Best’s 16 scores. Vereen played in all 13 games with four starts, including three of the last four contests after Best suffered a season-ending injury vs. Oregon State. Vereen totaled 566 rushing yards on 108 carries and six rushing touchdowns over the final four contests, averaging 141.5 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry. He finished among Pac-10 per-game leaders in rushing yards (No. 6, 73.23), all-purpose running (No. 6-T, 135.15), scoring (No.10-T, 6.46) and total offense (No. 15, 73.23), while his average of 22.96 yards per kick return was sixth in the league. Vereen added 25 receptions for 244 yards and two TDs, ranking tied for third on the team in touchdown catches, fourth in receptions and fifth in receiving yards. He rushed for more than 150 yards three times, including his season-high 193-yard rushing effort on a career-high 42 carries to lead the Bears to a 34-28 victory at Stanford to earn the team's Berkeley Breakfast Club Award as the offense's outstanding player in the Big Game, as well as Walter Camp Football Foundation BCS National Offensive Player of the Week honors, an AT&T All-America Player of the Week nomination and a Muscle Milk California Student-Athlete of the Week selection. He also had a career-high-tying three rushing touchdowns against the Cardinal as well as vs. Eastern Washington earlier in the season.
Vereen also had a strong campaign as a redshirt freshman in 2008, playing in all 13 games and starting on three occasions. He amassed 715 yards on the ground as the primary backup to Best to rank second on the club in rushing yardage, as well as 10th in the Pac-10 with an average of 55.0 rushing yards per contest. He finished with an average of 5.0 yards per rush on 142 carries and scored four touchdowns on the ground as well as five total with one receiving. In addition, he tied for second on the team with 27 catches for 221 receiving yards and finished with 936 all-purpose yards to rank second on the team behind Best and No. 18 in the Pac-10 with a per game average of 72.0. He posted the first of his 11 100-yard rushing efforts in his collegiate debut and a starting role vs. Michigan State in the season-opener, going for 101 yards on nine carries including a game-clinching 81-yard TD run in the fourth quarter that was the longest run of his collegiate career.
Conte played in 50 of 51 possible games and made 17 starts during his four seasons at Cal from 2007-10. He compiled career totals of 157 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss (-13 yards), two interceptions (no return yards), 11 pass breakups, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, three kick returns for 55 yards (18.3 ypr) and one blocked punt that he returned six yards for a touchdown.
Conte had the biggest season of his collegiate career as a senior when he moved full-time to the safety, earning first-team All-Pac-10 honors while starting all 12 games at the position after spending the previous two seasons primarily as a reserve defensive back shuffling between cornerback and safety. Conte ranked third on the team with 72 tackles and tied for No. 23 in the Pac-10 with an average of 6.0 stops per game. He also added 2.0 tackles for loss (-5 yards), an interception, three pass breakups, a forced fumble, two kick returns for 41 yards and the team's only blocked kick of the season on an Arizona State punt attempt, which he returned six yards for his first career touchdown. His signature game came at USC when he recorded career highs of 16 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss (-4 yards). He posted seven or more tackles on seven occasions.
As a junior in 2009, Conte played in all 13 games with one start, when he was in for the opening defensive snap vs. Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl. He finished the season with 25 tackles and one pass breakup.
Conte played in 12 games with one start as a 2008 sophomore, totaling 28 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss (-5 yards), one interception and seven pass breakups to rank No. 18 in the Pac-10 with an average of 0.58 per game. He recorded a season-high eight tackles and had a career-high-tying two pass breakups vs. Colorado State.
In his 2007 true freshman season he earned honorable mention Freshman All-American honors from Sporting News and Scout, playing in all 13 games with three starts and recording 32 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss (-3 yards) and a fumble recovery. His campaign included a season-high 10 tackles in the first start of his collegiate career vs. Washington State. His 32 tackles were the most recorded in a season by a true freshman at Cal since Donnie McCleskey had 45 in 2002.