Sophomore spotlight: Vernon Hargreaves III

Injuries plagued the 2013 Florida Gators, turning a promising season sour before October rolled around on the schedule. Injuries derailed a team with promise and led them down a slippery road of losses and the worst season of football in Florida history in three decades.

The silver lining, however, was valuable experience for a talented freshmen class; class loaded with playmakers, pushed into bigger roles than they could have been ready for at the time.

The moment might have been a bit bigger than they could have handled as freshmen but with a year of experience they will be asked to be pillars of the team in this redemption season for the Gators.

We’ll kick off our sophomore spotlight with the freshmen that exceeded even the lofty expectations heaped on his shoulders coming into Florida after an Under Armour All-American senior season in high school — Vernon Hargreaves

2013 Stats: 12 games played (10 starts) 3 interceptions, 38 tackles (26 solo), 11 pass breakups

Postseason Awards: Third team All-American (AP), National Defensive Freshman of the Year (College Football News), First Team All-Freshmen All-American (numerous publications), SEC Newcomer of the Year (Athlon Sports), First Team All-SEC (numerous publications), First Team Freshmen All-SEC (numerous publications).

Hargreaves started the season off right, recording three interceptions in his first four collegiate games. He started the last ten games of the season and led the Gators with 11 pass breakups — tying the school record for most by a freshman.

Hargreaves was touted as the next great cornerback in a recent line of star-studded players who now play their football on Sunday.

He didn’t disappoint.

Hargreaves handled the pressure like a fifth-year senior, someone who has been around the block and seen all there is to see in the toughest conference in college football, not the green thumb rookie he was.

Now he’ll be asked to come back out for an encore. He’ll be needed more than ever after the departures of Jaylen Watkins, Cody Riggs, Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson. Hargreaves will need to lead this secondary — and team — in 2014.

Boom or Bust?

Hargreaves’ freshman campaign is a tough act to follow. Many players would struggle to keep a level head when heaped with as many postseason and pre-season accolades as Hargreaves has been.

But he’s the right player to do it.

The son of a coach, Hargreaves grew up surrounded by some of the best players in college football, spending his youth watching the Miami Hurricanes while his father was a coach.

“Being around, when my dad coached at Miami, I was around all those great players like Ed Reed, Sean Taylor,” he said. “I was around all them. I remember how hard they used to work and compete. I took that from them.”

That work ethic ensures that Hargreaves will not rest on his laurels, for those who have great ability will always endure greater expectations.

Hargreaves will rise to this new set of expectations because it’s who he is as a person and a player. He is already one of if not the best player on his own team and could be the considered one of the best players in the SEC after what should be a promising, award-filled, sophomore season.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC


  1. I think Hargreaves may be the best player on the team. He was very impressive for a freshman. He now understands what it takes to be a great player and should be better this year. He needs to not gamble as much and rely on his fundamentals more, because he has the physical tools to be an elite corner. Hopefully we won’t see him as one of the leaders in pass breakup this year. That will probably mean that other teams are afraid to throw his way. The best corners are the one’s who don’t hear their name called very often because they rarely have a pass thrown their way. Hargreaves wasn’t at that level last year, maybe he can this year. Right now, I would consider him UF’s best player on either side of the ball, and it’s not close.

    • He was tested far too many times last season, IMO. I think you’ll see his pass breakups go down this season for the reason you alluded to; QB’s will try to pick on the other corners and steer clear of VH3 for the most part.