MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Jason Verrett has all the statistics and every bit of the reputation of an All-American cornerback, but the TCU star has the personal anecdote that just seems too perfect to believe.
"It's true," Horned Frogs Coach Gary Patterson said.
Verrett and TCU were playing on the road against Baylor to start the 2011 season and Verrett was making his Division I debut after two years and one season in junior college. Friends and family members were watching in the stands and on television to see Verrett start against the eventual Heisman Trophy winner, Robert Griffin III.
He passed for 414 yards and six touchdowns and picked on Verrett for big plays and scores. Verrett's first game was nearly his last.
"I wanted to transfer," he said. "I was a little lost about being away from home. I didn't want to quit, but I wanted to move on. But I'm glad that game happened because that game made me the player I am today."
West Virginia will visit Verrett and the TCU defense that leads the Big 12 in sacks and interceptions Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
The 3:30 p.m. game will be televised by ESPNU. Verrett had one interception and blocked a potential game-winning field goal in overtime in last season's win at Mountaineer Field.
"He's the best cornerback in the nation," TCU safety Sam Carter said. "But he wants to be the best cornerback in the nation. He spends a lot of time on his craft."
Verrett leads the nation with 36 passes defended since the start of last season - eight interceptions and 28 pass breakups. That's a long way from the "heartbroken" sophomore who was a long way from home two years ago in a losing locker room in Waco, Texas.
"The biggest thing was I told him what was going to happen," said Patterson, who met with Verrett after the game and talked him back to normal. "It's one thing to be real surprised, but I said, 'Look, if you don't start doing what you need to do, this is what's going to happen. This is the kind of opponent we're going to play against at this level.'"
Verrett began the next game on the bench, but ended up starting 10 times in 2011 and making the honorable mention all-Mountain West list. Last season, Verrett led the Big 12 with six interceptions and 16 pass breakups and was the only player to rank in the top five in both nationally.
"I had to learn quickly, but one reason I went to junior college was I wanted that Division I shot," Verrett said. "Once you get that acceptance, you can't go in there like a high school kid. You've got to go in with a lot of maturity."
Verrett's been learning quickly for four years now. Before the start of his redshirt freshman season at Santa Rosa (Calif.) junior college in 2010, Verrett had never really played the position he now plays as well as anyone in the country.
He was a running back at his high school in Fairfield, Calif., and never took defense too seriously. He was an ordinary player who had a pair of all-conference honors and not much of a target among college recruiters.