Five-star cornerback commits to Gators


Tampa Wharton star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III made his pledge to play for the Gators on Thursday. (Photo by Daniel Wallace/Tampa Bay Times)

Published: Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 6:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 10:52 p.m.

Florida got some early recruiting momentum going for Friday Night Lights with the verbal commitment of five-star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III on Thursday.

The Tampa Wharton standout broke the news on Twitter following his unofficial visit to UF.

“I can officially say I am committed to THE University of Florida,” Hargreaves tweeted.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Hargreaves chose the Gators over Clemson, Vanderbilt, Miami and Notre Dame. ESPN ranks him as the top player at his position and No. 4 overall recruit in the nation.

Corey Long, ESPN's recruiting coordinator for the state of Florida, said Hargreaves showed this summer that he's worthy of his five-star billing.

“He's proven it this offseason over the last three months by being unstoppable at various camps and All-Star competitions,” Long said. “He's very difficult to beat one-on-one, has tremendous ball skills and just a tremendous skill-set. He's fast, good catch-up speed in coverage, smart player and a coach's son.”

Hargreaves' father, Vernon II, is the defensive ends coach and special teams coordinator at South Florida, which was once a serious contender for the coveted cornerback. The elder Hargreaves said his coaching career, which began in 1985, helped spark his son's interest in football.

“Folks probably figure I got him out in the backyard doing drills everyday,” he said. “It wasn't like that at all. But obviously just being around the locker room and coming out to practice influenced him growing up. And his mother did a great job of keeping him active and he played all kinds of sports as a youngster. So I don't know if there was one thing that put him in the position he's in. Maybe it's just in him.”

That “it” factor resulted in more than 40 scholarship offers from schools across the country. And after a 10-day college tour this month — which consisted of visits to Oregon, Stanford, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Georgia, Clemson and Alabama — Hargreaves' dad is proud of how his son reached his decision to go to Florida.

“You have a tremendous amount of pride when your son is a guy that people want to have around,” Hargreaves said. “And not just because he's a good player, but because they think he's a good kid. And I think that's probably more important than anything. We're obviously excited about (his UF commitment), and I think he just wanted to make sure that he made an educated decision on what direction he was going to go in. It's not a four-year decision, it's a lifetime decision and it's something he took seriously. He handled the process like a professional.”

Like UF sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson and former first-round draft pick Joe Haden, Long thinks Hargreaves has the potential to start as a freshman for the Gators. He will also make up for the top-ranked corner they missed on in 2012 — Miramar five-star Tracy Howard.

“Looking at the youth on their roster, Florida is still very much unsettled at cornerback and they need that quality depth,” Long said. “They didn't get Tracy Howard last year, so I don't see any reason why he won't come in and make a very early impact.”

With Hargreaves' pledge to UF, the Gators now have 18 commits and eight ESPN150 members. Verbal commitments are not binding until prospects sign their national letters of intent.

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