Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is out for the Florida Gators on Saturday against the East Carolina Pirates

The Gators will be without their best player on Saturday night.

Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III suffered a leg injury in Thursday’s practice and will not play on Saturday night against East Carolina, the school announced on Twitter. 

Hargreaves has started the last 23 games at cornerback for Florida. With him out, the Gators will likely start Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson at cornerback with Brian Poole at the nickel. Before the game, Hargreaves was fully dressed on the field and catching punt. He also went through drills with the defensive backs before they were dressed out and didn’t show any signs of injury.

Without Hargreaves, the depth at cornerback takes a hit. Behind Tabor and Wilson, Poole would slide over to play cornerback if needed. Redshirt freshman Deiondre Porter and true freshman Chris Williamson would be the next options. The Gators have talent at the position with Hargreaves, Poole, Tabor and Wilson, but there is no experience behind the four. Porter and Williamson both played in last Saturday’s season opener against New Mexico State, but they didn’t see the field until late in the second half.

It could pose issues for the Florida secondary against an East Carolina offense that likes to throw the ball. Florida beat the Pirates 28-20 in last year’s Birmingham Bowl, but the East Carolina passing game had a big day before turning the ball over in the red zone. The Pirates lost quarterback Shane Carden and receiver Justin Hardy, two of the best in program history at their position, following last season.

Florida begins Southeastern Conference play next week at Kentucky. Florida coach Jim McElwain will provide an update on Hargreaves’ status after the game against East Carolina.

The game is set to kickoff at 7 p.m. despite showers in the Gainesville area throughout the day. Though there was lightning involved in the storms earlier on Saturday, the lighting is expected to be out of the area by kickoff.

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