Vernon Hargreaves III came to the Florida Gators as a top three recruit in the nation and a future as bright as the sun beaming into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday’s in September, and after an All-SEC freshman campaign, the freshman All-American is looking to round out his game by becoming a better leader, according to Zach Abolverdi of The Gainesville Sun.
“I just need to be a better leader,” he said. “A lot of freshmen corners are looking up to me.”
Hargreaves had future NFL draft picks Jaylen Watkins, Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson to look to for help with learning the playbook or approaching balancing beinga student-athlete his first season in Gainesville, but this year he’s the elder statesman.
Five-star cornerback recruit Jalen Tabor was on campus for spring practice as was Duke Dawson who soaked up what Hargreaves did on and off the field like a sponge, and incoming freshmen J.C. Jackson, Deiondre Porter and Quincy Wilson will do the same this summer when they report.
As gifted as Hargreaves is as a cornerback, and he has the looks of a future Thorpe Award winner and high NFL draft pick, a leadership role is something he tells the Sun that it’s a role he’s still working to get better at.
“That’s the role I’m trying to figure out right now,” he said. “Last year it was kind of easy for me because I could ask guys what to do or what to expect. But now, guys are asking me. I’m still learning how to take on that older brother role. It’s a process.”
While Hargreaves continues to progression as a leader, his head coach isn’t too concerned about him making those adjustments and taking advantage of his God given abilities.
“From a leadership standpoint, he understands he needs to take the next step there, and he certainly can,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said of Hargreaves. “He’s got great respect in the locker room because of his playmaking ability, but also the way he is as a person and the way he leads his life off the field. He’s a great example of what’s good about college football. God’s blessed him with a lot of ability, but he has certainly taken advantage of his blessings.”
Not much went right for Muschamp and the Gators last year as they dealt with a bevy of injuries to key players and the healthy players, mostly on offense, didn’t put out a good product on the football field as Florida went 4-8 in one of the worst seasons in decades.
However, with Hargreaves shutting down half of the field and leading the next wave of young corners at Florida, the 2014 season for the Gators should result in them having one of the biggest turnarounds in college football.