For the Cardinal, Vardell rushed for 1,843 yards, scored 37 touchdowns, and never recorded a fumble in his college career. He ranks second in Stanford football history for most touchdowns and third for most rushing yards. Vardell held the record for most rushing yards in a season by a Cardinal running back, with 1084 yards in 1991. His record was broken by Toby Gerhart in 2008.
In 1990 as a Junior, he carried the ball just 120 times for 441 yards but scored an impressive 14 TDs (1 TD every 9 carries). As a Senior, he would carry the ball 226 times for 1,084 yards and score 20 TD in only 11 games.
Vardell's performance for Stanford in 1991 resulted in him being one of the top draft picks in 1992 NFL draft. He was selected by the Cleveland Browns under then head coach Bill Belichick in the first round (9th overall) of the 1992 NFL Draft.
He displayed solid running ability in his first two years with the Browns rushing for 1,013 yards on 270 carries but only scored 3 TD. He would only play 10 games combined due to injuries in the 1994 and 1995 seasons before he ended up with the San Francisco 49ers in 1996 and Detroit Lions in 1997.
In his pro career, Vardell played in eight NFL seasons as the fullback for the Browns, the Detroit Lions, and the San Francisco 49ers. He overcame a career threatening knee injury early in his career and retired in 1999 with 22 touchdowns.
Vardell was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity at Stanford. Vardell is married to Andrea, and he with his family reside in California. Upon retirement from football in 1999, he co-founded Northgate Capital, a private equity investment firm with offices in Danville, California and London, UK. He currently serves as a Managing Director of the firm.