FSU defensive end Jared Verse gives rude welcoming to Max Brown in 1st career start for UF

GAINESVILLE - Jared Verse is certain to hear his name called in five months in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The Florida State football defensive end showed why he has been long considered a top-10 pick, and to boot, will haunt the memories of Florida quarterback Max Brown and left tackle Damieon George Jr. for the months to come.

On a play in the fourth quarter, Verse beat George off the line and while the left tackle transfer from Alabama kept backtracking, Verse knocked him into Brown to record the sack.

He finished with 2.5 sacks for the game, harassing Brown in his first career start all game, helping guide No. 5 FSU to a 24-15 win over rival Florida in the Swamp.

"Oh, most definitely," Verse said of wanting to create pressure on Brown.

"I mean when you're a vet, it's a whole different day. You are able to have that pocket awareness. But when you're a freshman, then you do not really know where people are coming from, how good is this D-end, how good that tackle is that's protecting you."

Verse led the Seminoles (12-0) with his season-high 2.5 sacks. Fellow DE Patrick Payton added two - both on the final drive - while defensive lineman Braden Fiske had one and linebacker Kalen DeLoach had half a sack.

The six sacks for FSU tied a season-high, which the Seminoles also recorded against Wake Forest.

As the game wore on, Brown went from being comfortable in the pocket and making throws to seeing pressure when it wasn't there - which wasn't often.

Payton bookended the game with two sacks on three plays on a drive after Ryan Fitzgerald gave the Seminoles a 17-15 lead with 7:17 left in the fourth quarter.

"You get really shaky and start getting back there," Verse said. "Fiske got him one, I got half of it. He's making bad throws, even when we don't get back there. He made some good throws, but he's on scholarship. He's a good player.

"But even just the awareness that we're gonna be back at some point, you don't know which way we're going to come from, is going to rattle the quarterback."

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Jared Verse's 2023 season

Florida State Seminoles defensive lineman Jared Verse (5) sacks Florida Gators quarterback Max Brown (17) at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, November 25, 2023 during the second half. Florida State won 24-15. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]
Florida State Seminoles defensive lineman Jared Verse (5) sacks Florida Gators quarterback Max Brown (17) at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, November 25, 2023 during the second half. Florida State won 24-15. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

To some, Verse has not lived up to the billing of the potential first-round pick he was heading into the season. After recording nine sacks last season - his first with the Seminoles - Verse had just 4.5 sacks entering Saturday.

"He was so impactful. Oh my gosh, in the run game in the passing game," FSU head coach Mike Norvell said with excitement about Verse's performance. "There were plays that the quarterback got the ball out much faster than what he wanted to just because of Jared's presence. You could tell throughout the course of the week, he was a man on a mission this week and he's prepared.

"And I say that with all due respect to everything he's done because. He's worked his butt off this year."

Verse also had two-sack performances against Wake Forest (Oct. 28) and Virginia Tech (Oct. 7). He had half a sack against Southern Miss in the home opener on Sept. 9.

But for much of the season, he has been doubled or triple-teamed, or even chipped at the line by a running back or tight end.

He's not up to seven sacks in 12 games. But he has surpassed his QB pressures this season to 46 from 36 last season, per Pro Football Focus. He has 13 QB hits - which ties a career-high - 27 hurries (career-high) and three batted balls (career-high).

"I do think he's gotten better and sometimes, it's a world of always looking at the stats. Well, what does that say? Well sometimes the stats don't tell the full story," Norvell said.

"He has done such an incredible job and he's faced every combination of block and chips and all of that. But tonight, he got his opportunity, and he was ready to answer the call as well. He was just he was huge for us tonight."

Confusion about 'missed call'

Despite the season-high in sacks for his defense, Norvell was still irate after the game about a sack that FSU did not get in the second quarter. It led to the Gators' only touchdown.

Akeem Dent came on a safety blitz and got a clean hit on Brown and tackled him for a 10-yard loss on the sack to set up fourth and goal and a likely field goal.

But Dent was called for a personal foul. No explanation was really given, but it appeared Dent made incidental contact with Brown's helmet on an otherwise clean hit.

Norvell ripped into the refs on the field and following the game was still not thrilled.

"I've got strong feelings of how terrible that was," Norvell said postgame. "But that was their perspective. It is what it is and our players were probably a lot more calm than I was. It's just one of those things that you have to have to respond and rise up above. That was the that was their early touchdown."

Reach Ehsan Kassim at or follow him on Twitter at @Ehsan_Kassim. You can also follow our coverage on Facebook (NoleSports), Instagram (tlhnolesports) and YouTube channel (NoleSportsTD).

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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Jared Verse led the FSU football defense with 2.5 sacks against Florida