Senior kicker Jake Verity has now added the all-time leading scorer title at East Carolina University to his list of accolades, as he is also a multi-time All-American Athletic Conference (AAC) award winner and Lou Groza award runner up.
So far in 2020, the Pirates stand at 1-3 overall and 1-2 in AAC games. While much of the team has had some struggles to start the year, Verity is not one of them, and head coach Mike Houston said they are very happy to have him on the team.
“I’m glad he’s (Verity) here, glad he plays for my team, it didn’t take long to see the talent that he had and it was in the middle of the preseason last year where you really started to grasp just how good he could be and obviously had a great season for us last year,” Houston said.
Verity didn’t start immediately as a true freshman in 2016. Verity only played in two games, first at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and then for the American Athletic Conference opener against the University of Central Florida. As he went 5-5 on extra points and 1-2 for field goals totaling eight points.
In his second season, Verity got the chance to play much more, where he went an impressive 35-36 on extra points and a solid 16-25 on field goals. He converted at least one point after touchdown (PAT) in all 12 games with a high of six against the University of Cincinnati in the final home game of the season. In key games against the University of Connecticut and the University of South Florida, he went 5-5 and 4-4 respectively.
In straight games against the University of Central Florida, Brigham Young University (BYU), the University of Houston, and Tulane University he went 3-3 on PATs. He registered three double-digit scoring performances in the season. 15 against BYU, 12 against Cincinnati and 11 against Connecticut.
“I think he (Verity) has a great talent and I think he’ll have a chance to kick after college,” Houston said. “I don’t get to make those decisions, but I think he’s got that kind of talent. He has a really good head on his shoulders too. I’m thankful he’s on our program, he’s been a mentor to our young specialists this fall, and I hope it comes down to him on Saturday.”
Verity’s third season saw him finally take off for the Pirates going 19-21 on field goals and 27-28 on extra points with his only miss being a blocked point after touchdown (PAT) against Old Dominion University in 2018. His 90.5 field goal percentage that season was a school record, beating out Robert Lee’s 89.5% set back in 2005. This was the season of Verity’s first All-Conference honors selection.
In 2019, Verity won All-Conference honors and he was also the runner up for the Lou Groza award. The Lou Groza Award is given to the best kicker in the country. The 2019 season saw Verity score his most points in a season, where he had 105 points for the Pirates. Verity went 24-29 on field goals and a perfect 33-33 with his extra points.
Verity set a new program record for consecutive field goals made with 13 beginning on Oct. 3, 2019 against Temple University and ended on Nov. 23, 2019 against Connecticut. Among AAC players that season he finished first in field goals per game, first in kick scoring, fourth in field goal percentage, fifth in total points scored and sixth in points per game. He matched a career best this season with four field goals in one game which Verity did against William and Mary.
So far this season, Verity is 6-7 on field goals and 11-12 with his PATs. Already with 29 points he has been one of, if not the most consistent player on the Pirates’ team, something Houston said he was impressed with.
“He did not have the training he typically would have coming into the season,” Houston said. “For him to be able to perform at a high level, and he’s had some issues where he has not been at full strength, but he’s continuing to perform at a very, very high level so I think everyone is excited for him, proud of him, and fortunate enough to share the moment with him.”
So far this season, Verity is 6-7 on field goals and 11-12 with his PATs. Already with 29 points, he has been one of, if not the most consistent player on the Pirates team and that play was rewarded as he just won AAC Special Teams player of the week. If the Pirates are going to have more success this year, Verity will likely be a key piece of that going forward.