By: Christian Hince | May 6, 2021
While UAlbany football struggled to 1-3 in a truncated Spring 2021 season, redshirt freshman Jared Verse was a profound bright spot for the team.
Leading the team in sacks and TFLs (tackles-for-loss), his efforts haven’t gone unrecognized. 2021 accolades of his include Second Team All-CAA, CAA Rookie of the Year, and finalist for the Jerry Rice Award, which is given to the best player in the FCS.
“All my hard work paid off,” he said. “Plus being a finalist shows me there’s other people that are doing the same thing I’m doing.”
Incarnate Word quarterback Cameron Ward was announced as the Jerry Rice Award winner Monday.
Verse’s success can be traced back to his days at Central Columbia High School (CCHS), where he was scouted by FBS schools such as Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Even though UAlbany was a smaller school that “came out of nowhere,” he found a special connection with the program. “They felt like family, they came up and visited my family a lot,” Verse said.
When joining the team, he was given the option of choosing between his two high school positions: tight end and defensive lineman, choosing the latter.
“I love offense for the fact that you can catch a touchdown, get everyone lit,” Verse said. “But d-line I feel like you have more opportunities to make big plays.”
A three-sport athlete in high school, Verse spread his talents across basketball and track along with football. While colleges showed some interest in him playing either of the two sports, Verse felt committed to his all-time favorite in football. “Football was my outlet,” he said. “It kept me focused, it was the main reason I did well in school.”
Although Verse was recruited based on his time in Columbia County, PA, this is far from the only location he’s lived in. After spending his first 12 years in Dayton, OH, he lived in North Carolina and Pennsylvania for three years each before moving to Phoenix, AZ after graduating.
While Verse hated moving at first, he came to appreciate the perspective offered by living in a variety of places.
“It definitely helped me as an athlete,” he said. “It’s kind of humbling to see how some people work harder than others based on their location.”
In his free time, Verse enjoys music and reading. He plays an array of different instruments, the two primary ones being piano and saxophone, and enjoys reading almost any type of fiction.
“I don’t really like romance novels, that’s not my thing. But anything else I love that type of stuff,” he said.
Off the field, writing is Verse’s passion which runs parallel to football. Poetry and short stories are his way of expending energy during the offseason, which was especially the case during the months after the first lockdown.
“I couldn’t work out all day everyday,” said Verse, living in Phoenix, which can exceed temperatures of 100°F during summer months. “I’d just sit down, I’d write a little bit. I’ve finished about two or three journals since then.”
Verse entered his first freshman semester as an engineering major, however he was quickly forced to change paths.
“The class I had to take that was mandatory was during football practice and I couldn’t skip,” he said.
He adopted sociology, something which interested him much more.
“I’m not sure what I wanna do beyond football in life, but sociology is something I really enjoy and there’s a lot of jobs you can get put into just ‘cause of it,” he said.
Verse’s extra year of eligibility from redshirting hasn’t only been helpful in giving him more time to choose his academic path, but it allowed him to bulk up right for the Spring 2021 season. “I went home and put on 50 pounds of muscle, roughly,” he said.
Even with a decorated season under his belt, Verse is still looking to up his game, most notably with better tackling.
“I missed a few huge opportunities that could’ve changed a couple games and a couple outcomes,” he said. “It’s something I don’t want to have to repeat next year.”
Verse is excited for a Fall 2021 season that not only features more games, but also heavyweight opponents such as the FCS king in North Dakota State.
“That’s honestly the one I’m looking forward to the most,” he said. “I want to go out there and show teams, show the whole league, show the whole country, I’m here.”