Vereen to Skip Senior Season for NFL

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Cal tailback Shane Vereen rang in 2011 in a big way.

Although he has one year of eligibility left, Vereen announced via the Santa Clarita Valley Signal that he will not be returning to the Cal football team for his senior season. Instead, he'll try his hand at the NFL Draft.

"It was very difficult," Vereen told The Signal. "I love Cal with everything I have. I had the best 3 1/2 years anyone could have there. ... I had to keep my dream (though). Since I was seven, I wanted to play in the NFL. I saw the opportunity to accomplish that, and I went for it."

Vereen leaves Cal with a fairly accomplished career in his own right, even if his accomplishments seem dimmer than those of his high-flying predecessor Jahvid Best. Last season, Vereen racked up 1,167 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground (and three in the air). For his career, he had 2,834 rushing yards. Academically, Vereen has already graduated with a degree in media studies.

His decision comes on the heels of a disappointing season for the Bears. Cal failed to reach a bowl game for the first time in coach Jeff Tedford's tenure. Next season, what would have been Vereen's senior season, will be played away from Memorial Stadium with an uncertain face at quarterback.

All things considered, it's probably a good time for Vereen to leave. The Draft is noticeably weak at running back, with no RBs projected to be picked in the first round. The situation was also improved for Vereen by the fact that both Oregon's LaMichael James and Jacquizz Rodgers of Oregon State will not leave early for the NFL Draft.

The Draft takes place in April.

Katie Dowd covers football. Contact her at [email protected]

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