Verna commits to UNC
After a stellar senior season in which he led the Class 5A/4A Southwestern Conference in receiving yards, Grand Junction High School halfback and defensive end Theron Verna verbally committed Sunday to play football at the University of Northern Colorado.
Verna, listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, was fifth in the SWC in sacks.
Wyoming, Montana State, San Diego, South Dakota State and a handful of NCAA Division II schools expressed interest in Verna before he settled on UNC.
Verna said academics and a high level of competition played into his choice.
“What it really came down to — I had a couple other FCS offers but not (for) a lot of athletic money,” Verna said. “I had that and some local D2 schools. On top of that, the last two recruiting classes they had were really good.
“And I talked to (former Grand Junction quarterback) Sean (Rubalcaba) and he said Greeley is a really nice place to be. It’s also in the Big Sky (Conference), so I’m very excited about that.”
Coach Robbie Owens said Verna is a perfect fit for UNC because of his ability plug into the read-run game.
“He proved to be such an offensive threat with his size and speed,” Owens said. “He is definitely a smart kid who has gotten better and better for us and I think he’s a really great fit for what they want to do offensively with the quarterback run game and read game stuff.
“I think with (UNC) signing Sean Rubalcaba, they’re moving towards (a read-option offense) and he’ll be doing similar things for them that he did for us. Sky’s the limit.”
Verna is the second player from this year’s Tigers squad headed to an FCS school. Running back Austin Lewis has committed to Drake. Offensive lineman Quinton Walton has received an offer from San Diego but has not yet committed.
National letter of intent day is Feb. 5.
The trio of potential DI commits are part of a senior class for the Tigers that finished 8-3 and advanced to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Quarterback Tyler Heinsma has committed to CSU-Pueblo and free safety/tight end John Wiman is headed to Colorado School of Mines.
“It’s everything we did in the past six years and it starts with the foundation that was laid by the first guys that were here when I got here,” Owens said. “We’ve had guys that have been successful and that gradually has led to more and more opportunities for our players.”