When Shane Vereen came to Cal in 2007 as rivals.com's No. 5-rated running back in the country, he wasn't even the best at his position in the Bears' recruiting class that year. Vereen arrived in Berkeley along with Jahvid Best, who went on to become one of the top tailbacks in college football and ultimately a first-round NFL draft pick by the Detroit Lions. Such is the landscape at Cal, which has spent the second part of this decade churning out elite running backs.
Bears coach Jeff Tedford, a former quarterback in the Canadian Football League, has a reputation for producing potent aerial attacks. But lately it should be for developing star running backs. Each of the Bears' starting tailbacks since 2004 has been drafted by an NFL team. J.J. Arrington, after leading the country in rushing, was a second-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2005. Marshawn Lynch was the 12th overall pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2007, and Justin Forsett was taken by the Seattle Seahawks in the seventh round in 2008. Best was taken 30th overall in April. Now, it's Vereen's turn. The redshirt junior has flashed his ability in doses as Best's backup the past two seasons. He was the starting running back in the final four games last year after Best was injured, and for the season Vereen rushed for a team-high 952 yards, including 193 in 42 carries in Cal's win over Stanford.