Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, arguably the top recruit in the Class of 2013, is obviously very talented.
Hargreaves, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound shutdown defensive back, has shown flashes of greatness since his sophomore year of high school and was widely considered the best cornerback in the state of Florida last year when he was a junior at Tampa (Fla.) Wharton High.
During the Under Armour All-American Game it was clear and quite evident why Hargreaves was the top cornerback in the country. He shut down top receiver Laquon Treadwell, holding him to only 46 yards and was awarded as the Most Valuable Player by Under Armour with five tackles, two pass deflections and an interception. However, what makes a cornerback great isn’t a heavy stat line. In fact, the best cornerbacks in the country usually have fewer stats than their counterparts.
Hargreaves ended his senior year at Wharton as the Guy Troph Award winner (top football player in Hillsboro County) with 110 total tackles, five interceptions and five caused fumbles.
However, what makes Hargreaves great? What makes him deserving of all of the accolades that he has received? Let’s watch his videos and highlights to learn more…
The first thing that stands out about Hargreaves is his physicality. At 5-foot-11, he has good size, but he plays taller than he is, and at 185 pounds plays stronger than he probably is. That sounds confusing, but Hargreaves has a great vertical leap, is a great pass deflector and is strong on the line of scrimmage. His ability to press at the line of scrimmage and within the first five yards are what separate good cornerbacks and great cornerbacks. Moreover, Hargreaves is not afraid of contact in the air, which leads to more pass break-ups, incompletions and interceptions.
Further, examining his highlights from the Under-Armour All-American Game, you see an incredible football IQ, which couples his ability to break down plays, while also being patient. Hargreaves’ high school coach David Mitchell said of the All-American: “He has the awareness of being around the football and good breaking speed on the football.” You will notice that he is very quick to read plays and lock-on to a receiver in man-on-man coverage; or quickly center into zone coverage; or burst toward the running back on running plays. Couple his IQ with his speed and physicality, he will be able to compensate for any missed assignment or if he is caught out of position. His identification of plays quickly allows him to lock down one side of the field, immediately. You won’t see Hargreaves give up big plays often during his time at Florida.
Finally, look at the fundamentals. Hargreaves moves well in his back peddle and his hip flips are fluid in coverage. He keeps an eye on the ball and doesn’t easily fall for a pump fake. Hargreaves tackles with solid form and he follows through to the ground. And, of course, none of this should be a surprise as his dad is a college football coach currently at Houston, with previous stops at UCF, ECU, FIU, Miami and UConn.
Get ready Gator fans, because Hargreaves is the real deal.