Brock Vereen will be one of the leaders on defense this year.
Brock Vereen, a 6-foot, 202-pound senior defensive back, played in all 13 games last season and started seven games at safety. The Academic All-Big Ten selection moved to safety after starting all 13 games as a cornerback as a sophomore.
Vereen comes from an athletic family. His father, Henry played football at UNLV and his mother Venita played tennis for the Runnin' Rebels. His older brother Shane was a running back at California and now plays for the New England Patriots, where he has rushed for 308 yards and four touchdowns in two seasons.
Gopher Hole caught up with Brock Vereen in an interview to talk about his senior season and NFL aspirations.
Gopher Hole: What are the expectations for your senior year, individually and team-wise?
Brock Vereen: Individually, I hope to be a leader. I hope that when people look back on what is hopefully a Big Ten championship season, they can say that I was at the forefront of the success.
Gopher Hole: Has your college career gone pretty fast?
Brock Vereen: It has. Freshman year seems like it was yesterday. There haven't been enough successful seasons, but there have been a lot of learning lessons that I can put forth to this final effort as a Gopher.
Gopher Hole: Being a senior, do you see yourself taking more of a leader role? You obviously lost some key seniors like Michael Carter and Troy Stoudermire, so do you see your role changing?
Brock Vereen: Anytime you are a senior, you are automatically pushed to be in that leadership role, but I have accepted it and I feel that a lot of the guys feel the same way.
Gopher Hole: You are still a very young defense with you and Ra'shede Hageman being the experience players. What are you expecting to be the biggest improvement from the defense?
Brock Vereen: The last two seasons struggling a little bit with a lot of young guys as a turn over of now where we still have some youth, but I like that everyone has experience. Outside of linebacker is the only position where there might be some question marks, but those guys have a lot of experience and by the end of the year, they will probably be one of our strengths.
Gopher Hole: As a senior, you are looking at the next level. Do you talk to your brother much about playing in the NFL and what does he tell about the difference from college to the pros?
Brock Vereen: Just knowing the game and he always make a strong point of how that is so overlooked. Just the straight X's and O's of understanding the game. The minor details and knowing that, is what is going to separate you to be successful at the next level.
Gopher Hole: Do you think that having him there is going to help you pick up some things from him?
Brock Vereen: I can honestly say that having him has helped me through the college experience, so hopefully if the NFL is an opportunity for me, it will be the same situation.
Gopher Hole: You probably relied on him a lot when you were being recruited, so it has been nice to follow his footsteps.
Brock Vereen: Exactly. He has had success over these two seasons and I am sure that he will this year also, so that is only going to benefit me.
Gopher Hole: What are his expectations this year with the Patriots?
Brock Vereen: I think that any Patriots fan or player expects greatness. I think that every year for them is Super Bowl or Bust and they have a right to feel that way.
Gopher Hole: I know that he has played well when he has gotten the opportunities, but he hasn't gotten s many chances as you would probably like to see. Do you ever catch yourself yelling at the TV to 'Get him in the game."
Brock Vereen: Obviously, I am pretty biased, but he is mature about it. He understands it and knows that it is a business and he knows that there are some things that he can't control, but when he has had the opportunities, he has done what he can.
Gopher Hole: You made it to a bowl game last season and I am sure that you would like to get to an even better bowl game this year. What are the goals for the upcoming season?
Brock Vereen: When you put in the work that we have been putting in after all the lifting, running and meetings, anything less than a Big Ten championship is short-sighted.