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After Jermaine Johnson II Wreaked Havoc Against Miami Last Year, FSU Has Another Highly Touted Transfer EDGE Defender Jared Verse

True Freshman Right Guard, Anez Cooper, is coming off his best game of the year. He’ll need to maintain that momentum against Verse.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 01 Wake Forest at Florida State Photo by Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Three years ago, Miami made one of its biggest Transfer Portal splashes when they picked pass rusher, Jaelan Phillips, who had a dominant 8.0-sack 2020 season en route to being selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Canes hoped to repeat their luck via the portal when they picked up SEC EDGE rusher, Deandre Johnson, but he did not have quite the same impact and went undrafted this past season.

In fact, it was another pass rusher who transferred to the ACC in 2021, Jermaine Johnson II, who was the prized portal pickup in college football. Johnson compiled an 11.5-sack junior season and was similarly selected in the first round like Phillips. Johnson also had a massive 3.0-sack performance against Tyler Van Dyke and company in the infamous 4th & 14 game. And as fate would have it, lightning apparently struck twice for FSU in the transfer portal as they picked up another electric pass rusher, Jared Verse, as the athletic Albany transfer has 4.5 sacks thus far in the season.

Verse, a redshirt sophomore from Dayton, Ohio, was a three-sport athlete in high school as he excelled in basketball and track (and played both sides of the ball in football). Initially recruited as a tight end, Verse was a no-star recruit and started his collegiate career at the FCS level at Albany.

Even there, he opted to redshirt to pack on the pounds and transition to defensive end where his 6’4”, 247-pound frame was welcomed. Despite waiting two full years to get consistent game action due to the true freshman redshirt and COVID-19 year, Verse burst on the scene as the CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year. In 2021, Verse compiled 11.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks as the FBS-level offers came piling in (including interest from the Canes contingent).

Much to the chagrin of Miami, Verse ultimately chose the Seminoles, likely in part to Jermaine Johnson’s success after getting an opportunity in a starting role under FSU’s defensive coordinator, Adam Fuller. To that end, Verse had an unbridled path to be a day one starter due to the departure of Johnson II and Keir Thomas.

Verse plays with extreme tenacity. Verse is able to generate immense acceleration and explosion to pop right through contact, but also possesses the dangerous agility to shift his movement past blockers. Verse is also patient and intelligent enough in reading the option and defended running plays.

He’s a freak athlete as can be seen from the embedded video below last year against a top tier running back in Syracuse’s Sean Tucker, who he nearly tracked down after a 50+ yard pursuit. He clearly plays with a high motor often lined up on the strong side of the offensive line and every play matters. For example, in the opener against LSU, he tallied two sacks, but also had a key blocked field goal, and was disrupting Jayden Daniels throughout the evening.

FSU has a couple other transfers at the next layer of the defense in linebacker Tatum Bethune and quality cornerback Jammie Robinson, who will both be a challenge for the Canes. But it starts up front where Verse will be working with Robert Cooper (defensive tackle) to wreak havoc on whatever Miami quarterback - or some combination - gets the nod.

As noted, Miami will need to protect the strong side. True freshman offensive lineman, Anez Cooper, is coming off his best performance of the year where he was featured at right guard. At right tackle, DJ Scaife, has patrolled that position. It may also be a key day for the tight ends, Kahlil Brantley and Will Mallory, to show their blocking, or flank-and-catch, prowess, especially with a thin running back corps.

Overall, Verse is a raw player. This will be a key test for Mario Cristobal, who is a former offensive lineman and trench-blocking is often considered his strength. He will need to find a way to disrupt Verse early and often if the Canes want to avoid 4th & 14 2.0.