GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was named a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist on Monday, putting him among the nation's top 15 defensive backs.
Freshman CB Vernon Hargreaves III was named a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist on Monday morning.
He was the only freshman named a semifinalist and one of only two underclassmen to receive the recognition, along with sophomore Alabama safety Landon Collins.
Hargreaves was the No. 3 player in the nation in the 247Composite Rankings for the 2013 class, an industry-generated recruiting ranking.
Even with such a high ranking coming out of high school, his superb play has caught people by surprise.
"I have people coming to practice and they don’t really know a whole lot of who is who and say, ‘Wow, that No. 1 practices hard,’" coach Will Muschamp said. "So I think that’s the first thing, he knows how to practice."
Hargreaves has been targeted 36 times and given up just 10 catches for 204 yards. That catch-to-target percentage of 27.8 percent leads all Florida defensive backs. He also leads the team with three interceptions and seven pass breakups.
"At first I was surprised, but that was like the second game," junior safety Cody Riggs said. "He is a really good player. He's really smart. I've said that before. He has great respect for the game. He is a hard worker. He plays 100 miles per hour and he deserves it."
The true freshman has practically been the model for playing early. His father has been a college coach for 29 years, so Hargreaves picked up his practice habits at an early age.
"The biggest transition for a young player is knowing how to practice the right way," Muschamp said. "He’s come in week in and week out, been very attentive in meetings, knows what to do, knows how to practice the right way. A really talented player who’s having a really good year."