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Continued: Gophers' safety Vereen establishes his own path

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 23, 2013 - 12:57 AM

These days, the parents prefer attending Gophers and Patriots home games because the players have less time to visit when they’re on the road. The Vereens try to have at least one parent at each home game, but sometimes grandparents fill in to make sure the family’s represented. Venita has a brother who lives in Minneapolis, and Brock had an easier time leaving home after high school knowing he’d have family close by.

Last January, Brock was in the stands when Shane electrified Gillette Stadium with a breakout performance against Houston. The 5-10, 205-pound running back scored three touchdowns and combined for 123 yards rushing and receiving in a playoff victory.

“Being able to be there, that was such a special moment,” Brock said.

The brothers remain extremely close, talking on the phone at least once per day. Shane helped lift Brock’s spirits when he tore meniscus in his knee, forcing him to have surgery and miss spring practice in 2012. The injury coupled with a switch from cornerback to safety left Brock catching up in the Gophers secondary early last season.

But by season’s end, he locked down a role as a starter, notching nine tackles against Michigan, eight tackles against Nebraska and a 30-yard interception return against Michigan State.

“The only reason he’s not really, really well known across the Big Ten is he missed that spring, so his fall started a little bit slow,” Gophers defensive backs coach Jay Sawvel said. “There are a lot of [defensive backs, nationally] that are very highly touted, and they don’t play near as well as him.”

At 6 feet and 202 pounds, Brock might have the makings of his own NFL career.

“I think the University of Minnesota in general is full of late bloomers,” he said. “I think with our lack of success in previous years, we’ve been overlooked. Coach [Jerry] Kill has brought it together, and now the talent’s showing.”

Brock Vereen might have a future in broadcasting, but much like his brother, he’s eager to see where his playing talent takes him first.

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