Wharton (Tampa, Fla.) cornerback Vernon Hargreaves knows that the greatest fear for every defender who prowls around in the secondary is getting beat with a deep ball for a touchdown.
“That’s the worst thing that can happen,” said Hargreaves, a senior who is ranked No. 4 in the ESPN150. “It’s embarrassing.”
Not that Hargreaves would know.
Not only has that never happened to him, Hargreaves can’t fathom a scenario when it would ever happen.
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“Nah, I can’t see a receiver just straight-up beating me on a long pass like that,” Hargreaves said. “For that to happen they’d have to get behind me first, and that’s not happening.”
Don’t mistake Hargreaves’ self-assuredness for being cocky; he just knows that he can always tap into his secret weapon to prohibit getting burned on the gridiron.
“My speed and my agility are definitely my secret weapon,” said Hargreaves, who is committed to Florida. “They go hand-in-hand to me. When I’m on the field I’m just way more confident knowing that I can use that in case I get into a tough situation.”
Last December, Hargreaves clocked the fastest time in the 40-yard dash – 4.45 seconds – at the Under Armour Combine in Florida. “I feel like I’m faster now though,” he said. “I haven’t clocked it in a while, but I just feel like I can beat that time. On the field it just lets me do a lot more.”
His favorite on-field, in-game pastime?
Hargreaves said that he’s so confident in his “make-up speed” that he locks in on receivers more at the line of scrimmage to “feel them out.”
“A lot of this game is being able to know what the guy you’re guarding is capable of,” Hargreaves said. “So that’s why I like to get up on the receiver and get my hands on him. I know that if he gets a step on me I can recover from that. It definitely has everything to do with my speed and agility. Guys just don’t try me out there as much because of that.”
It’s not much different in practice.
Hargreaves and his teammates typically finish out their day by running sprints against each other, but when it’s time to race the 5-foot-11 speedster the pickings are a bit slim.
“Yeah sometimes they kinda fall back in the line,” Hargreaves said.
Still, there are times when a brave soul or two steps up and issues a challenge.
“They want to try and beat me to say they did it,” Hargreaves said. “Sometimes they come close, but they’re not gonna win. I’m still undefeated in the after-practice races. It’s just something else my speed and agility has gotten me.”