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NFL prospect fondly recalls growing up near Dayton

Feb. 28—INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Jared Verse said his dream of playing in the NFL began the first time he touched a ball as a youngster in Beavercreek.

"That's my whole childhood ," he said Wednesday morning at the first media interviews of the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine. "Up until my teenage years, I was there. I remember going outside playing with my friends at the park down the street. Doing this, doing that. My dog would get loose sometimes outside the house and run around down the block. It literally was the most harmless dog and would run around for no reason, but those are the memories I have."

The Florida State defensive end is among hundreds of prospects in the Circle City this week looking to impress NFL teams ahead of the 2024 draft in Detroit in April.

He entered the week ranked among the best edge rushers in the draft, a potential first round pick, and hopes to prove to NFL teams that is the correct assessment of his skills after two years at the University of Albany and two years in Tallahassee.

"I have respect for everyone in this class," he said. "All these guys are hard-working guys. I don't feel there's anything athletic that separates you from these guys. There's dudes that are fast, there's dudes out here that are strong. I think the only thing that I have guys over all these guys is that I had to earn it with my hard-working ability."

As a senior at Central Columbia High School in Pennsylvania, Verse said Albany, a school that plays in the Football Championship Subdivision of Division I, was his only scholarship offer.

So he took that opportunity and logged 21.5 tackles for loss, including 14.5 sacks, before jumping to the big time at FSU, where he had 21 more tackles for loss and 13 sacks in 21 games.

As for being under-recruited as a prep prospect, Verse said it made sense because he was only carrying about 200 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame.

"At the end of the day," Verse said. "I was never supposed to be in this position. I wasn't even supposed to be at Florida State. I was never supposed to be standing here in front of you today. If you asked anybody in high school, I'm not supposed to be here today. So being the first pass rusher (drafted) would mean the world to me. But at the end of the day, it's not the end of the world. You know, I'm still going to be working, no matter what position I go. Whether I go first round, second round or maybe all the way down to the seventh, I'm going to give everything I have."

Now weighing 265, Verse is looking forward to his next challenge, and he said he feels great support from his family, including some who still live in the Miami Valley.

"All of my siblings, my sisters, my brothers, everyone's my biggest support system," he said. "They never had any doubt. They knew how much work I put in. They knew how much I was sacrificing going to parties or social outings, just to work out, just watch some more film, just you know hit the field. Them seeing all of that kind of put more belief in me. I never had any doubt in myself. They never had any doubt me. When you have a support system such as that, there's nothing to worry about."

In the NFL, he said he can line up inside, over an offensive tackle, on the outside or even off the ball.

"Whatever you need," Verse said. "On the tight end, off the tight end. You know, they put me in coverage. I have a lot of experience with every position — whatever you need me to do."