Florida Football Recruiting: Why Vernon Hargreaves Is Gators Most Crucial Commit

Nick de la TorreCorrespondent IFebruary 6, 2013

Vernon Hargreaves coming up with an interception at the Under Armour All-American game.
Vernon Hargreaves coming up with an interception at the Under Armour All-American game.Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Gators made an unbelievable turnaround in 2012. After finishing 7-6 in Will Muschamp's first season as head coach, the Gators finished 11-2 in Muschamp's sophomore season. 

A stout defense led the way for the Gators, and as long as Will Muschamp is the head coach in Gainesville, the Gators will always be a strong, defense-first football team. The style of defense that the Gators run puts a lot of pressure on the secondary. Muschamp asks his cornerbacks to play a lot of man-to-man defense, and a strong secondary allows the front seven to get after opposing quarterbacks. 

The crown jewel of this Florida recruiting class is undoubtedly Vernon Hargreaves III. Hargreaves is a 5-star recruit and the No. 1 cornerback in the nation according to 247Sports composite rankings. 

Hargreaves embodies everything that Muschamp looks for in a cornerback. He excels in man coverage, can jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, has exceptional speed, has great feet and hips and isn't afraid to come up and make a tackle when he needs to. Hargreaves finished his senior season with 110 tackles and five forced fumbles according to MaxPreps.com

The son of a coach, Hargreaves grew up around the game and has the kind of football instincts that can't be taught. He was named team MVP at the Under Armour All-American game in part due to his interception of Shane Morris in the fourth quarter.

Hargreaves read the quarterback's eyes, played under the receiver's route and baited Morris into throwing an out route. He quickly turned his hips and made an athletic play to come up with the interception. Understanding the game at this level is something that you rarely see in high school athletes and is the main reason Hargreaves will see the field early on in his career. 

Look for Vernon Hargreaves to challenge Marcus Roberson, Cody Riggs, Jaylen Watkins and Loucheiz Purifoy for a starting spot at cornerback, and expect to see a lot of Hargreaves as a freshman.