WESTWOOD—There have been a lot of great athletes that have graced the campus of UCLA and gone on to do amazing things when they took their game to the next level. Players such as Bill Walton, Arther Ashe, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Troy Aikman and of course Jackie Robinson, just to name a few, have all made a major impact in their sport after their time as a Bruin.
All of these players mentioned are pretty far removed from college life and played decades in the past, but UCLA has not stopped churning out players into professional sports. Despite all the hype that school across town gets, the Bruins have consistently produced great athletes and that legacy has lived on with former defensive back Alterraun Verner.
Before he came to UCLA, he was characterized as a smart player that made great plays, but didn’t have the size or speed to be an elite player. In his first game as a true freshman at UCLA, Verner quickly dispelled all the naysayers by taking an interception back to the house for a touchdown to jump start his career.
When it was all said and done Verner finished with 13 career interceptions, four returned for touchdowns and an All-American. After such a successful career in college, one would think people would get the message that he was capable and ready to be a big time player in the NFL, but for some reason the same labels that were put on him before he started college resurfaced when he was preparing for the NFL draft. Scouts and analysts said he wasn’t big enough, fast enough or strong enough to make a major impact in pro football, and as a result, many other cornerbacks were selected ahead of him while he went in the fourth round.
True to his character, Verner did not complain or get frustrated, instead he just went to work. Hit the weight room, conditioned, watched film and did all the little things necessary to be successful. The Tennessee Titans began to see the potential they had in their fourth round pick and he earned the respect of his teammates and coaches. It was only a matter or time before the rest of the league felt the same way.
When Jason McCourty went down against the New York Giants in the third game of the season, Verner moved into the starting spot and got an opportunity to show everyone that he could be just as successful in the NFL as he was in college.
In his first game starting, he recorded 11 tackles against the Denver Broncos and was nominated for Rookie of the week. The following week against the Dallas Cowboys Verner tallied eight more tackles and had an interception that set up a touchdown by Chris Johnson that sealed the win for the Titans. By the way, his performance against the Cowboys earned him a second straight nomination for Rookie of the Week and all he did to follow those outstanding two weeks was get another interception on Monday Night Football versus the Jacksonville Jaguars.
If the NFL doesn’t know by now, they will know soon enough that Alterraun Verner is more than capable enough to compete at a high level against other professional athletes and he is loving every minute of it.
“It has been a wonderful experience so far. Almost too good to be true. Not only being a part of an NFL team, but actually being able to start has been so surreal. It is definitely a business and a lot is at stake every week. But it has been so fun in every game so far,” said Alterraun Verner.
The season is still in its infancy and so is Verner’s career, but there is no question that as a natural competitor and a Bruin, the future for him looks very bright.