Hargreaves has accepted leadership role

Not many programs have to lean on a sophomore to be a leader of a unit, but not many programs have a sophomore like Vernon Hargreaves. The Tampa native returns for his second season with All-American accolades and a chance to be one of the best ever at Florida, but the Gators also need him to be a leader of a very young and inexperienced defensive back group. Hargreaves has accepted the challenge.

True to a leader, Vernon Hargreaves has to believe in what he is doing and what he is instructed to do. With that in mind, the young super athlete says he will lead by example by following what his coaches tell him to do, no matter what. That may not be so hard knowing that his mentors are Florida head coach Will Muschamp and secondary coach Travaris Robinson, two of the best secondary minds in all of college football.

“I stay to the script,” Hargreaves said when asked if he ever tries to wander away from the play call from Muschamp and Robinson and make a play. “If a play needs to be made I will do my best to make it. I am not going to go out on my own limb, it’s just not the way I am. It worked for me last year… I have no reason not to trust them.”

Robinson, known as “T-Rob”, is popular among teammates and prospects and Hargreaves has the utmost respect for his position coach.

“Coach Robinson and I have a great relationship and rarely bump heads,” he said. “We are always on the same page, understand what needs to be done, and want to be perfect. I am not going to complain and do what is asked of me.”

Hargreaves came to Florida with more accolades than maybe any defensive back ever recruited. The number one corner prospect in the country coming out of high school, he still found it a little intimidating and needed some reassurance when he entered his first game last season. By the time the season was over, he led the team in interceptions and was being talked about as a freshman All-American.

“Things definitely slowed down for me,” he said about his mind catching up to the pace of the game. “When I first got here last year I thought things were fast and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play. I have obviously settled in and can play. My confidence is high.”

The staff has asked him to take that confidence and turn it into a leadership role. Hargreaves and junior Brian Poole are the only returning cornerbacks from a year ago. They have a good deal experience, but after that we are talking zero. He understands that the new guys knew who he was when he got here, now he has to let them know that he can help them.

“I know the plays now and know what I can do,” he said. “I have to earn their trust and once I do that that is where the leadership grows. They have seen me on TV, but haven’t been around me yet.”

Of the talent that the staff brought in, Hargreaves is excited to play alongside the group. J.C. Jackson, Deiondre Porter, Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson have all shown glimpses this fall of helping this defense win some games.

“I like them all,” Hargreaves said. “JC Jackson is doing really well, Quincy got the first pick as a DB, so that was great. I like them all.”

Tabor and Duke Dawson arrived in the spring and got a head start on the rest of the group. Dawspn has since moved to more of a safety role, but certainly could play some corner. Both guys are very talented and pushing to start somewhere in the secondary.

“Jalen and Duke are my boys,” Hargreaves said. “They have a spring under their belt, know the defense, and know what is expected. In my book, they are with me. They are doing well but know we have to get better and perfect our craft.”

Jackson has turned some heads this fall, including Hargreaves.

“He’s doing everything,” Hargreaves said. “He’s non-contact, but other than his banged up shoulder, it doesn’t even looked banged up. He plays fast and physical like he does and I am excited to watch him play. I would probably say J.C., even with the shoulder, is the most physical.”

In the end, he understands that the four young guys trying to get on the field can’t be treated just like Hargreaves was a year ago. His success doesn’t mean anything about their future success and what needs to happen in 2014.

“These guys are a little different,” he said. “They are their own person. They have their own goals. They understand they have to play early and it will be tough. They are individuals and are tough and going to play for it.”

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