A first-time Pro Bowl selection in 2015, Jason Verrett is looking to bounce back after having his 2016 season cut short by a partially torn ACL.
Remarkably, Verrett played through the injured knee early in the season, defending receivers and intercepting passes with his usual tenacity.
In 2015, Verrett was selected to his first Pro Bowl and named Chargers Defensive Player of the Year for the first time in his career after pacing the squad in interceptions and passes defensed. He scored his first NFL touchdown after returning a Jay Cutler pass 68 yards for a touchdown during an ESPN Monday Night Football game at Qualcomm Stadium. And during a Dec. 13 in a game against Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium, Verrett picked off the Chiefs’ Alex Smith, marking Smith’s first interception in 313 pass attempts (10 games), which had been the second-longest streak in NFL history.
The fact that Verrett is even playing football is a small miracle. Back in 2010 during his freshman season at Santa Rosa Junior College, Verrett suffered a hamstring injury. Trainers told him to go home and ice the leg. What they didn’t tell him to do was fall asleep with the ice on his leg. Verrett did just that, and he slept a full night with the ice on his injured hamstring. He suffered a third-degree burn because of it. Fortunately, his mom insisted he go to the hospital where doctors told him had he waited any longer to seek treatment, his leg very well could have become infected, and if it had, doctors most likely would have had to amputate it.
After earning all-state and all-conference honors in his lone season at Santa Rosa, Verrett transferred to Texas Christian for the 2011 season. In his first ever game for the Horned Frogs, they faced a Baylor team that was led by quarterback Robert Griffin III “RG3” and wide receiver Kendall Wright. It was a rough introduction for Verrett as Griffin threw for 359 yards and five touchdowns, while Wright, whom Verrett spent most of the day covering, caught 12 passes for 189 yards and two scores. So distraught was Verrett after the miserable performance to begin his TCU career, he contemplated quitting school and returning home. Two phone calls quickly made it clear that that was not going to be an option. The first was to his brother Tre’ and the second was to Lenny Wagner, his freshman coach at Santa Rosa. Neither man was going to stand by and let Verrett quit. And little did Verrett know as he would come to find out later, the man who drafted him, Chargers General Manager, Tom Telesco, was at the TCU-Baylor game that day, scouting for the Indianapolis Colts.
Verrett ultimately settled down and improved each week. Six games into the season, coaches moved him into the starting lineup, and the results were dramatic. Over the Horned Frogs’ first six games, the defense was surrendering 267.7 passing yards and 410.0 total yards per game, but then over the last seven games with Verrett in the starting 11, the defense improved significantly, yielding just 194.7 passing yards and 310.0 total yards per game. By the end of the year, Verrett had shown enough to earn honorable mention All-Mountain West Conference honors.
Verrett went on to start three seasons at TCU, and as a senior in 2013, he was named the Big 12 Conference’s co-Defensive Player of the Year, a consensus second-team All-America and a first-team All-Big 12 pick. One of the nation’s top cover corners that season, opposing quarterbacks only threw 52 passes in his direction and only 17 were completed. Already touted as a likely first-round pick, Verrett’s stock went up after he clocked a 4.38 in the 40-yard-dash at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, the second-fastest time among the cornerbacks.
Verrett is a native of Fairfield in Northern California. It’s home to the Jelly Belly candy factory. Verrett’s entire family, including his father, Warren, grew up Raiders fans. Brother Tre’ even works for the Raiders as a client services representative. Verrett joked after his introductory press conference that as soon as he was drafted by the Chargers, the entire family would be converting their allegiance to the Chargers.
In 2015 and ‘16, Verrett served as Race Ambassador for the Kaiser Permanente Bolt to the Q, an annual race from Chargers Park to Qualcomm Stadium that helped support the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Diego.
Verrett was a sports broadcasting major at TCU. ESPN SportsCenter anchor, Stan Verrett, is a distant cousin.
TRANSACTION HISTORY: First-round pick by Chargers, (25th overall), May 8, 2014...signed May 30.
2016: Highlight-reel one-handed interception on pass intended for Jeremy Maclin early in fourth quarter Sept. 11 at Kansas City...was second-consecutive game vs. Chiefs with INT off Alex Smith...Oct. 2 vs. New Orleans in second quarter, broke up Drew Brees pass which was tipped in air and intercepted by Craig Mager...placed on “Reserve-Injured” list Oct. 7 with partially torn ACL in left knee.
2015: Pro Bowl first-alternate, selected to replace injured Darrelle Revis...Chargers Defensive Player of Year...left Minnesota game Sept. 27 early with foot injury...did not play Oct. 4 vs. Cleveland (foot)...Team Captain Nov. 1 at Baltimore and led team with three passes defensed...68-yard interception return touchdown for 13-0 lead in second quarter Nov. 9 vs. Chicago on ESPN’s Monday Night Football...tied for 13th-longest return in team annals...two third-down passes defensed vs. Bears’ Alshon Jeffrey in first half, including deep ball in end zone...injured groin later in second quarter...only saw brief action after injury...late third-quarter interception in end zone off Brock Osweiler vs. Denver Dec. 6...interception Dec. 13 at Kansas City on deep pass intended for Jeremy Maclin...during second-quarter three-and-out Dec. 20 vs. Miami, had five-yard tackle for loss on first down, followed by pass breakup on deep ball on second down...Bolts forced punt and scored TD for 16-0 lead on ensuing possession...team captain Dec. 24 at Oakland...injured hamstring in second quarter just after breaking up deep ball in end zone...inactive Jan. 3 at Denver.
2014: Injured hamstring Sept. 21 at Buffalo and inactive Sept. 28 vs. Jacksonville...clinched Oct. 12 win at Oakland (31-28) with interception with 1:13 remaining in fourth quarter...first NFL pick...six tackles and tied team high with two passes defensed vs. Raiders...inactive Oct. 19 vs. Kansas City (shoulder)...returned Oct. 23 at Denver but re-injured shoulder in second quarter...inactive Nov. 2 at Miami...placed on “Reserve-Injured” Nov. 15.
COLLEGE: Big 12 co-Defensive Player of Year and first-team All-Big 12 as senior...also second-team All-America by Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, Sports Illustrated and USA Today...first-team All-America by SI and third-team by AP as junior in 2012, along with first-team All-Big 12...team’s Dan Rogers MVP in 2012, first defensive back since 1992 to win award...career-high six interceptions as junior tied for most in Big 12 and sixth in nation...only allowed 30 completions on 105 attempts (28.6 pct.)...22 passes defensed led conference and were second most in NCAA FBS...honorable mention All-Mountain West as sophomore in 2011...spent 2010 freshman year at Santa Rosa Junior College...first-team All-NorCal Conference and California Community College Athletic Association All-State...started 34 of 37 games played at TCU, registering 160 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 35 passes defensed and nine interceptions...allowed just 77 of 235 career passes (32.8 pct.) to be completed...44 tackles, four interceptions and six passes defensed in 2010 at Santa Rosa JC...set school-record with 99-yard interception return for touchdown vs. Foothill College...played 2011-13 at TCU...sports broadcasting major.
PERSONAL: Born in Fairfield, Calif. ...two-time All-Solano County League, and All-Sac-Joaquin running back and defensive back at Rodriguez High in Fairfield...older brother, Tre’, also played running back and defensive back at Rodriguez.