Verse navigates ‘overwhelming’ transfer process to take his game to next level

Jared Verse entered the transfer portal and had no idea what to expect. Over the next few months, the tables were turned — the edge rusher was being pursued as if he were a quarterback.

Verse accumulated 14.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in 15 games for Albany University, participating in the FCS spring and fall seasons. Confident in his abilities, the defensive end felt there would be interest in him but admitted he was shocked by the volume of schools contacting him. He fielded numerous calls and texts as well as scholarship offers and opportunities to visit campuses around the country in a whirlwind recruitment that was far different from when he came out of high school. 

“The best way to describe it is overwhelming,” Verse said. “Coming out of high school, I wasn’t really highly recruited, but then entering the transfer portal, a lot of colleges came at me in such a short amount of time. My family had to help me. I leaned on them for a lot of support to help me kind of organize everything. But towards the end when I kind of got close to making my decision, it became more fun.”

Verse was a three-sport star in high school, playing on the defensive line as well as tight end and also competing in basketball and track (he won a state title as part of the 4×400 relay team). He redshirted in 2019, gradually added weight through 2020 as Albany did not play that fall in opting instead for the spring season. 

And by the spring, Verse had filled out. (He recalls being 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds coming out of high school and is now listed by FSU at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds.) Verse impressed in both seasons in 2021, and he was first noticed by FSU coaches who were scouting Syracuse’s offensive line. Coaches were seeking to build a scouting report for the Orange, but Verse’s performance in the Syracuse-Albany game on Sept. 18 was notable because of his impact and energy.

Jared Verse had 14.5 sacks in 2021 at Albany. (photo via University of Albany athletics)

When Verse went in the portal, FSU’s coaches had seen plenty of what he could do against a Power 5 team. And it doesn’t hurt that Verse is a redshirt sophomore, giving him as many as three years to play at FSU.

“We are fired up to have Jared joining our program,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “He is a special athlete who has blossomed into a highly productive playmaker since coming into college. He has an incredible ceiling with his speed, athleticism and toughness.”

Verse visited FSU on Dec. 10 and spent nearly a month weighing his options before making a commitment on Jan. 7, in time to enroll for the spring semester at FSU. While saying yes to FSU, Verse tried to field all of the communication with other schools before respectfully telling them he couldn’t make a visit to their campus.

“Throughout the whole process, you have to say no to a couple coaches,” Verse said. “This is a business at the end of the day so it kind of became hard for me.”

It also helped that Norvell and defensive ends coach John Papuchis had a built in track record with Jermaine Johnson and Keir Thomas enjoying breakout 2021 seasons after they transferred from SEC schools. Verse was able to spend time with the coaches as well as defensive ends who were in the same position as him a year ago as they were weighing what to do.

“Coach Norvell and coach JP got me swayed completely here,” Verse said. “Sitting down with them, seeing coach Norvell’s vision, what Coach JP could do for me but what I could do for the program, that was definitely what swayed my decision the most besides Jermaine and Keir.”

It is clear that Johnson and Thomas were candid about FSU’s coaches and the program, which made a lasting impression on Verse.

“When I came on my official visit, I met with Jermaine before I met with Keir,” Verse said. “Me and (Jermaine) sat down, we spoke for an hour or so and he told me about his decision to come here. He believed in coach Norvell, his vision. He was a truthful guy, he didn’t lie to me at all. He told me the good, the bad, everything about Florida State, what he liked, what he didn’t like. The fact that a player was that honest with me versus most other schools where they might have been just trying to get me there, he kind of told me everything. Keir, I got to spend a little bit of time with him later that afternoon. We talked more just the lifestyle of Florida State and it was something that appealed to me, too.”

A year ago at this time, Verse hadn’t played in a college game. But his hard work and on-field performance at Albany helped elevate him as a prospect. Verse said he has been in Tallahassee about a week, beginning classes and taking part in FSU’s offseason workouts.

“Tour of Duty, people told me it was hard, but being in it is a whole different conversation,” Verse said. “The high intensity, the perfection is very highly expected. It’s supposed to be not perfect, but try your hardest and that’s something I really love. The strength coaches and everything, that’s a whole conversation. I love them, I’ve worked with them very closely the past week I’ve been here. I’ve gotten some really good work in with them. I feel like being here is going to take me to that next level.”