Florida Football: 3 Things That Make Vernon Hargreaves Special
No matter which recruiting website you go to, Vernon Hargreaves is considered one of the best defensive players in the 2013 recruiting class. He is rated the No. 1 cornerback by ESPN, 247Sports and Rivals.
Hargreaves was selected to play in the 2013 Under Armour All-American game, where he won team MVP honors. He was selected as a Parade All-Amercian and won the prestigious Guy Toph Award, which is given to the top senior in Hillsborough County. Past winners include Andre Caldwell and Nelson Agholor.
But what makes the 5-star cornerback so special?
Vernon Hargreaves is a special talent and this slideshow will explain what made him great in high school and how those skills will translate to the next level. Let's take a look at the top three reasons why Hargreaves III will be a special player for the Florida Gators.
Vernon Hargreaves III has drawn comparisons to former Gator great Joe Haden. What Hargreaves has heading into college that Haden didn't are experience and instincts.
A lot of college cornerbacks were athletes in high school who played multiple positions before being moved to corner in college. Hargreaves is a true cornerback who has played there his entire life. Growing up a coach's son and playing cornerback his whole life has allowed Hargreaves to develop into a very instinctual player. He can already read a receiver's body language and get an early jump on routes, a trait that takes most players some time to develop.
This highlight from the Under Armour All-American Game is a great example. Hargreaves baits quarterback Shane Morris by playing under the out-route while still keeping himself in position to make a play. When Morris looks up, it appears that he has a man wide open, but Hargreaves is waiting for the pass and makes a great catch.
These types of instincts make Hargreaves a special player and should help make the transition to college much quicker and easier for him.
Will Muschamp looks for physical players at cornerback, and Vernon Hargreaves is that type of player. Although he doesn't have elite size at 5'11" and 185 lbs, Hargreaves isn't afraid to come up and make a tackle when he needs to.
Hargreaves finished his senior year of high school with 110 tackles and five forced fumbles. He is sound in his tackling technique and uses great leverage when taking on bigger players.
When you add that kind of physicality to elite cover skills, you get a truly special talent.
Hips and Feet
To play cornerback at the college level, you need quick hips and feet. Being able to get in and out of your backpedal is the difference between making a play and getting burned.
Hargreaves has exceptional quickness in his hips and feet. This quickness allows him to mirror receivers throughout their routes and make plays on the ball.
Hargreaves also possesses great closing speed, which allows him to take more risks on the field and helps put him in position to make plays.
Having elite hips and feet separates Hargreaves from the pack at cornerback.
Where Does He Fit in the Defense?
Hargreaves' talent alone will ensure him early playing time at Florida. The Gators have a ton of talent in Cody Riggs, Marcus Roberson, Loucheiz Purifoy and Jaylen Watkins already at cornerback, but Hargreaves might already be the most complete corner the Gators have.
His combination of speed, instincts, agility and physical play will get Hargreaves on special teams from Day 1. Once he enrolls in the summer, Hargreaves will also have an opportunity to contend for one of the starting spots at cornerback. The Gators play a lot of nickel and dime coverage to take advantage of the talent they have in the secondary, and Hargreaves could find playing time in those packages.
Once he shows the ability to cover the bigger, more physical receivers in the college game, he should be a favorite to start at either cornerback spot sooner rather than later.
Vernon Hargreaves is a player Gator Nation should be excited about, as he is a true lock-down corner who looks well on his way to becoming one of the best defensive players that the Gators have had in recent years.