Former Gopher Vereen wants to be like big brother

The defensive back is trying to showcase his talent and follow his sibling into the NFL.

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Brock Vereen was a coaches’ All-Big Ten first-team selection as a senior.

Photo: File photo by MARLIN LEVISON • mlevison@startribune.com,

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– Former Gophers defensive back Brock Vereen met with the New England Patriots at the NFL combine Saturday. It’s the same team that drafted his older brother, running back Shane Vereen, in 2011.

If New England selects Brock in this year’s draft, it’d make for a nice reunion — you’d think.

“The biggest part of me just wants to hit him,” Vereen said. “I just can’t wait until we meet on the field.”

Maybe “nice” isn’t the best term.

The idea of playing together hasn’t been discussed. Only once have they been teammates, when Brock was promoted to the varsity as a freshman at Valencia High in California, but Brock will try to follow in Shane’s footsteps in the NFL. He entered the combine leaning on his big brother for advice in an attempt to improve his draft stock.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have an older brother at the level that I was trying to get to,” Vereen said.

Vereen said he’s received insight from his brother at every level of football dating back to high school. After Valencia High, Shane attended Cal, where he finished fifth all-time with 4,069 all-purpose yards before being selected in the second round by the Patriots.

It is unlikely Brock will be picked that high. He said he’s already met with at least eight teams, including the Vikings, and is not worried about the wide draft projection range — from the third round to undrafted.

“The biggest thing is that nothing is personal and to understand that you’re not here to go to school,” Vereen said. “This is a business and now there’s a change in mindset that comes with that.”

Vereen was measured at 6 feet and 199 pounds Sunday. He will bench press on Monday with the rest of the defensive backs and then hit the field on Tuesday. He will also try to answer questions about his speed.

“I’d be disappointed with anything slower than a 4.4 [in the 40-yard dash],” he said.

Shane ran it in 4.5 seconds.

Brock, who was a coaches’ first-team All-Big Ten defensive back last year, finished fifth on the team with 59 tackles. He finished his career with four interceptions, including one against Iowa last season.

He played cornerback and safety with the Gophers and thinks his versatility will work in his favor during the evaluation process.

“I was all over the place coming into the week,” Vereen said. “I didn’t know where I’d be that week. It was fun and it helped with my understanding of the game.”

Besides talking to his brother, Vereen has been in constant contact with former Gophers teammate Ra’Shede Hageman, a defensive tackle who was also invited to the combine. The two trained together in California as Athletes First clients.

Vereen said he hasn’t seen Hageman, who will have his on-field workouts Monday.

Hageman has also been linked to the Patriots.

Vereen said his parents likely would be jubilant if he landed in New England, but he hasn’t talked about the possibility with Shane much.

“Both of us want to play against each other so much that we never really talked about being on the same team,” Vereen said. “If that were the case, it’d be a blessing.”

And a daily opportunity to punish his big brother.

 

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