Learning more about ... Shane Vereen

In the second of a series on Patriots 2011 draft choices, ESPNBoston.com speaks with Cal associate head coach/running game coordinator Ron Gould about New England second-round pick Shane Vereen:

How would you characterize Shane as a running back?: "The guy that stands out to me [as a comparison] when it comes to style of play is Marshall Faulk. He can run between the tackles and be physical inside. He has the ability to pass-protect on third down. He can catch the ball as a wide receiver, or coming out of the backfield. He can be an every-down guy and is the type of player who is going to rise to the occasion with the opportunity to compete. He has that competitive spirit. He's already a talented young man, but the thing that separates him from a lot of guys is his work ethic and that he's smart. He understands football, so he'll adjust to things because of his football IQ."

What were some of the biggest questions NFL coaches and scouts had for you on Shane?: "His size. They look at him on film and he might look small. But you see him in person, he's a lot thicker than people think he is, a lot stronger than people think he is -- he's a 380 bencher, he power cleans well over 330, and is almost a 475 squatter. He's a lot stronger than people think and a lot bigger than people think [5-10 1/4, 210 pounds]."

Was there one performance that stands out in your mind during his career at Cal? : "There were a lot of them, but one that comes to mind was when we were playing Stanford when he was a sophomore. He carried the ball 42 times. Somebody asked me after the game if I knew how many carries he had and I said 'Maybe 25, 30 max.' It was 42. I could not believe it, but it was a day where he willed us to victory with his heart, passion and desire -- that competitive spirit he has inside of him."

Are there any stories that stand out from the time you were recruiting him?: "I thought he's be going to UCLA because when I walked into his high school coach's office, all I saw was UCLA; I think his wife was an assistant coach there. So I was thinking 'Oh my goodness, he's probably going there.' But we were able to cultivate a great relationship. I remember him running track on Fridays and then he'd drive north to my office and we would meet on Saturdays. If we had Junior Day, he was always there. He would visit campus to see what was going on, and that said a lot about him. Once I got to meet his family, you could see how supportive his parents were. I knew right away from talking to his mom that if there was any problem, she would nip it in the bud. When you talk about Shane's character, he's the type of guy that if you had a daughter, you'd want him to marry her. That's the highest compliment."

What did you see from Shane when it came to handling adversity?: "When Shane came in as a freshman, he had pulled his quad a little bit and didn't have that snap in his legs that I was used to seeing. So I told him we were going to redshirt him, because he wasn't ready to go yet. He was not happy with me. The one thing I told him was 'If you're upset, the one thing I want you to do is come talk to me about it.' He did just that. He let me know how he felt, we talked through it, and I thought that spoke to his maturity. I don't think many kids would that; the easier route would be to pout and go through the entire year upset."

What should New England followers know most of all about Shane?: "He's an unbelievable kid. He could be an ace for an organization. He'll never embarrass the organization. He's just a tremendous character guy, a tremendous athlete. I'm very passionate about the guy."