BRADENTON – The South Florida Blur had a receiver on a seam route running wide open down the middle of the field in a match-up with Team Tampa during the middle of Saturday pool play at the IMG Madden 7-on-7 Championships on the campus of IMG Academies.
Just soon as it appeared the Blur would grab a sure touchdown, top cornerback prospect Vernon Hargreaves III flew out of nowhere to make a highlight-reel pass deflection for Tampa. Mission accomplished.
“They tried to run the same play twice. I mean, I’m pretty good at picking things up,” Hargreaves said following the first game of the day for Team Tampa, which easily appeared to have the deepest and most talented roster of the 17 teams competing in the event.
Instinctive play is what the chesty, 5-foot-10, 180-pound cornerback has become known for on the 7-on-7 circuit and during his time patrolling the secondary at Wharton High. Could it be that his ability to seemingly take all the right angles comes from the fact he just happens to be the son of a college assistant coach?
“I guess a little bit,” he said with a sly grin.
Hargreaves – the son of Vernon Hargreaves, Jr. (an assistant under Skip Holtz at the University of South Florida) – happens to be one of the grand prizes on the recruiting trail in the state of Florida for the Class of 2013. While the in-state schools – most notably USF and Florida, along with Florida State and Miami to a lesser extent – have made the most headway in regards to the younger Hargreaves so far, the junior All-American figures to expand his horizons a bit over the coming months.
“I know which schools I want to see, and which ones I like,” he said. “Alabama, LSU, USC – not so much the in-state schools, I know I can see them whenever.”
Of course, the in-state programs are still high on Hargreaves’ list, mind you. It’s just that he is now looking to make sure he isn’t missing anything with some of the top BCS teams that have extended him offers from outside the borders of the Sunshine State.
Still, Hargreaves is keeping a close eye on the Florida Gators. He even added that he hoped to get back up to Gainesville in the coming days.
“I haven’t taken any visits recently,” Hargreaves said. “I might go to Florida’s practice sometime this week.”
Helping to lead the way for Florida in the recruitment of Hargreaves is his older sister, Karina, who attends school at UF. Even a sister can prove to be just as persistent and hounding as some of the college coaches involved with the chase for one of the top prospects on the trail in this recruiting cycle.
“All day. Whenever she texts or calls me, it’s ‘come to Florida,’” Hargreaves said of his sister’s pursuit of his talents. “It’s funny, though.”
As to whether or not his sister or his father, the USF assistant coach, is recruiting him harder, Hargreaves didn’t have to think for long when prompted for an answer.
“My sister, definitely,” he said without hesitation.
As for the coach who has been tasked by the school with recruiting Hargreaves, the polished corner prospect had plenty of good things to say about UF assistant Travaris Robinson as well.
“He’s a good guy, he’s funny, energetic and he’s telling me the truth about Florida,” Hargreaves said. “He’s not telling me lies – not saying I’m going to come in and start or anything crazy like that.”
Although Hargreaves continues to be on pace to graduate from high school early, he revealed on Saturday afternoon that it was not certain he would actually enroll in college for the spring semester at this time.
During his junior season, Hargreaves notched 49 tackles, two interceptions and a sack on defense, while adding 13 receptions for 313 yards and three touchdowns for a Wharton program that finished the season with a record of 5-6 after advancing to the FHSAA Class 8A state playoffs in 2011.
Hargreaves is slotted as the No. 5 overall prospect in the country—and the top-rated defensive back—according to the Gator Country Composite Recruiting Rankings for the Class of 2013.