Is Jason Verrett the Best Defender in the Patterson Era?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Marshall and Jamie take sides and discuss if the senior cornerback is the best Frog defender under Gary Patterson's tutelage.

In a recent post about Jason Verrett's Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honor, Marshall popped off and said that Jason Verrett was the best player of the Patterson era, at least defensively. I responded with no (give or take a few words).

After several texts back and forth, we decided to air out the argument in public, for your reading pleasure, and so you could voice your opinion too. So, here's the question: Is Jason Verrett the best defender in the Patterson era?

Marshall Weber

Was Verrett as naturally gifted like Tommy Blake or Daryl Washington? No. Does he make the big, jump-out-of-your-chair type of plays like Devonte Fields and Jerry Hughes? Not really.

But there’s never been a more consistent defender in TCU history. There’s never been another player that was all over every play like Verrett was. Go back and watch these games (minus Baylor ’11). Just watch Verrett. It seems no matter where the opposing team was on the play, Verrett was somehow in the mix.

After TCU’s inaugural year in the Big 12, most people attributed last year’s "success", to (then) freshman phenom Devonte Fields. But it was Jason Verrett who was the true and silent guardian of the highly praised TCU defense.  That was proven this year.

Thrown Into The Fire

By now everyone knows the story. After getting torched by the Heisman-bound Robert Griffin III in the first game of his career, Jason Verrett wanted to quit football. It’s understandable actually, as Verrett was always doubted because of his size. The 5’10" kid from Northern California was just overlooked from the beginning and spent his first year at Santa Rosa Junior College.

To the delight of TCU fans (including myself), Verrett didn’t play much during the next game against Air Force. This was the point where he wanted to quit.

But beginning with the Louisiana-Monroe game, Verrett built a solid resume for his sophomore season and quickly earned the starting job back. He carried this momentum into 2012 and from the beginning, it was clear something special was taking place. Most notably, Verrett had four break-ups in TCU’s first Big 12 game against Kansas as well as two picks in the Iron Skillet monsoon.

But this was only the tip of the iceberg, Rose.

The Best Against The Best

And here’s where I’m going to make a lot of people mad-

Hughes, Newhouse, and Washington were great. No doubt.

But none of them had to play the same level of talent week in and week out like Verrett. In a conference known for its passing offense, Verrett shut down the Big 12’s best receivers on the reg.

TCU’s first year in the pass happy Big 12 didn’t seem to bother Verrett as he was the only player in the country to finish in the Top 10 in both interceptions and passes defended. For my money, Verrett’s two most notable defending performances had to be holding West Virginia’s Stedman Baily to 2 catches for 30 yards and Oklahoma’s Kenny Stills to 2 catches for 16 yards.

What were high points of concern going into the respective games, it was almost like Bailey and Stills ceased to exist. I’m sure those reporting on the game had to double check to see if those guys had even played. They did.

The West Virginia game was also the most important game TCU played in 2012 and given that, Verrett’s blocked field goal was an important play. Sure, the Texas game on Thanksgiving was probably the most memorable and emotional, but 2012 might’ve been a different result had the Frogs not gained some momentum in Morgantown.

It’s from my gathering that Frog fans only remember two plays in that game; the 94-yard strike to Josh Boyce and the two-point conversion. But many fail to remember TCU’s unsuccessful attempt in the first overtime, which pretty much guaranteed a West Virginia win. But out of nowhere came Verrett, blocking the likely field goal conversion and thus giving TCU another shot at the win. We see important missed field goals fairly often (’10 Kyle Brotzman, Cade Foster). But blocked kicks don’t happen very often, much less with the game on the line in overtime.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJxP2AenTac

It was easy to see why Verrett earned All-Big 12 and All-American honors, as he finished the season with six interceptions and 58 tackles during the regular season.

2013:

Verrett stated that he thought his best defending job in 2013 was against LSU. It’s hard to disagree with the man himself, but here’s some other captivating highpoints…

In the nightmare that was the Texas Tech game, Verrett held Eric Ward, Tech’s leading receiver at the time, without a catch and as a bonus laid a gigantic hit on All-Big 12 Tight End, Jace Amaro.

While Verrett’s consistently dominant performance was always noted, no performance may have been as celebrated as was his coda against Baylor. In that game Verrett held Antwan Goodley, arguably the Big 12’s best receiver, to just one catch for a meager 12 yards.

Are you not entertained?

If that still doesn’t impress, consider that Goodley was averaging 119 yards a game and 20 yards per catch before that game.

While our offense may have looked otherwise, it was the Verrett-led defense that proved TCU belonged in the Big 12.

Beyond

As big of a Jerry Hughes fan as I was, it’s mind blowing to me that Hughes left TCU more decorated than Verrett. Not to mention Verrett getting completely snubbed for the Jim Thorpe award this year.

The picture of Hughes flexing over the wounded Jordan Wynn in the Utah game is one of the greatest TCU images of all time. I’m not trying to take anything away from that game. We had College Game Day and the stage had never been bigger for us up to that point. But that was simply a stepping-stone to where we are now. Utah was the best the team we played that year and now we play teams better than that every week.

But regardless of the higher level of talent we play on weekly basis, Verrett still shines. Not saying Hughes, Newhouse, Washington, Phillips or whoever you choose to insert wouldn’t have excelled in the Big 12.

But the evidence is there for Verrett where it isn’t for everyone else, which is why there’s no doubt in my mind Verrett will have success in whatever NFL uniform he dons.

There’s no reason to defend the MWC, WAC, or Conference USA anymore.

This is big time football and Jason Verrett is a big time football player. He’s also the greatest defender and arguably the greatest player of the Patterson era.

Jamie Plunkett

A balmy night in Pasadena. As the sun sets two teams clash, fighting for glory. One team is a powerhouse, the other, an underdog. A flurry of scoring in the first quarter gave way to big hits, three and outs, and two stellar defenses going blow for blow.

"That was the Tank, baby!"

Seconds tick down, the underdog gets closer and closer to its goal. A two point conversion attempt. Two hands go up and bat a ball away.

_______________________

That's one instance. One of many where a TCU defender has risen to the occasion and made a play for his team. We saw Tank Carder do it throughout his career. The three bands-per-arm athletic freak was always all over the field. Making hits, making plays.

Jerry, his teammate, made plays to crows of, "HUUUUUUUGGGGHHHHHHHHHHEEESSSS" from adoring fans. Hughes had 9 multi-sack games and recorded 26.5 sacks for his career.

Those are just two names, but there are plenty more.

David Hawthorne, Daryl Washington, LaMarcus McDonald, Bo Schobel, Tejay Johnson, Marvin Patterson and Jason Goss may speak up too. They'd all speak up and make their case to be the greatest defender under Gary Patterson.

It's a fact that Gary Patterson knows defense, and he knows how to make a defender great. There are plenty of examples, just see above. It's what Gary prides himself on, making players great, making a defense great, and over the years he's had greatness grace Amon G. Carter week in and week out. Is it even possible to say one is greater than the rest?

Sure, but let's not get crazy with it.

Now, I don't make this argument to belittle the accomplishments of Jason Verrett, not by any means. The guy is a beast and has been the best defensive player on this team for the past two seasons (and to think, as several have pointed out, that he almost walked away from the game after that 2011 contest against Baylor). He's most likely going to go in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft come April. If I had to guess I'd say that despite being slightly undersized, he's going to have a good, long career in the League. For his career, he has 152 tackles, 9 interceptions and 43 passes defended. Fantastic.

But, for a second, let's look at some of the numbers for the others guys listed above.

Tank Carder recorded 228 tackles during his time at TCU. Jerry Hughes tallied 26.5 sacks, 36 tackles for loss and forced eight fumbles. Daryl Washington recorded over 200 tackles, and double digit tackles for loss and passes defended. LaMarcus McDonald recorded 56 tackles for losses and over 200 tackles.

Bo Schobel had 46 tackles for loss and 24.5 sacks, including 17 in a single season. David Hawthorne broke a dude's jaw he hit him so hard. I heard it from the student section. Martin Patterson recorded 234 tackles. Tejay Johnson had 172 tackles and 7 picks, and was an All-American before giving up an NFL career to work with the deaf. Jason Goss recorded 11 interceptions, including a record 8 in a single season, and defended 47 passes.

Sure, all of this happened in conferences not called the Big 12. But have we really reached the point where we have forgotten the amount of competition we faced in the MWC? In Conference USA? Boise State, BYU, Utah, Louisville and Cincinnati. Those teams faced Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Stanford, Clemson, Oregon State,  a bowl eligible Iowa State, and Wisconsin in the freaking Rose Bowl. The quality teams were there, let's not pretend they weren't.

And those guys that paved the way for where TCU is today went out and played the people put on their schedule, and they beat almost every damn one of them, and they did it with defense. Let's not pretend those guys couldn't hang in the Big 12 either. If Marcus Mallet and Paul Dawson can play at this level, so could Carder, Hawthorne and Washington.

So is Jason Verrett the best defender under Patterson? I say no. I would put Carder and Hughes above him. For me, Verrett would fall in line right next to Jason Goss.

This isn't for lack of talent on his part. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, it's simply due to the wealth of defensive talent that has been produced with Patterson at the helm. Patterson knows defense.

Verrett is simply the latest greatness.

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