Vernon Hargreaves – Getty Images
Newest Buccaneer, Vernon Hargreaves III, sat in between general manager Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter at his introductory press conference Friday. His family – mom, dad and sister – sat front row as the No. 11 overall pick talked about the whirlwind journey that resulted in his dream come true.
Though the dream could’ve come a little sooner had his phone been on ring instead of vibrate Thursday night.
“It’s actually kind of funny,” Hargreaves began. “We were sitting at the round table right and I had my phone right in front of me, and my friend was sitting right across from me on the other side of the table. He saw the phone ring before I did. I picked it up and obviously I saw it was an 813 area code so I knew who it was and…”
Licht interjects, “It took about seven rings; we were about to take a different player,” he said jokingly, drawing big laughs.
But they didn’t take a different player and Hargreaves is a Buccaneer.
“First of all, I’d just like to thank the Glazer family for letting me be a part of this organization,” Hargreaves said. “It’s a blessing to be back home, to play right in my backyard. I’m excited to get started.”
Hargreaves’ love for football started as a kid, when his dad was the linebacker coach at University of Miami (1998-2005). While Vernon Hargreaves II didn’t force his son into sports, instead letting him choose his own path, the younger Hargreaves remembered being influenced by the Hurricanes players, some of whom would go on to become NFL greats.
“Growing up as a coaches’ kid and being at the practices watching guys like Reggie Wayne and Sean Taylor, I think things like that just stick with you subconsciously,” Hargreaves said. “I knew I wanted to be like them when I grew up. I saw how hard they worked at practice, even as a little kid. I knew they did the right things and I knew that’s how it needed to be done.”
So far, he’s done everything right on the football field. But the NFL is a different animal and Hargreaves knows it. Now he’ll be facing Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan twice a year, each with a 6-foot-5 wide receiver at his disposal.
“You really see how good you are on Sundays; it’s a whole different ball game,” Hargreaves said. “You have to be elite, so I’m excited to showcase my skills.”
One of those skills is tackling. Cornerbacks aren’t always the ones willing to stick their head in the pile, but it was just that type of attitude and playing style that sold the Bucs even more on the Florida product.
“It’s the most important thing in the game,” Hargreaves said. “If you don’t tackle, you definitely don’t win. You can’t be scared. You have to go throw your face in the fan and get the guy down. That’s what I like to do.”
Hargreaves, who said he’s already received texts from Jameis Winston, Louis Murphy and Gerald McCoy, is looking forward to meeting his teammates, particularly fellow cornerback Brent Grimes. The rookie said he’s modeled his game in many ways after Grimes, a fellow 5-foot-10 corner, and will be “in his pocket, asking a whole bunch of questions” to the point of annoyance.
“He’s just going to have to deal with me for a little bit,” Hargreaves said. OTAs start on May 24, the first opportunity for Hargreaves and fellow rookies to join the veterans on the field.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
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