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Hargreaves among Hillsborough elite

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida cornerback commit Vernon Hargreaves III has had praise headed upon him for months now as one of the top players in the country. He was recently named the MVP at the Under Armour All-America Game, and he ranks as the No. 3 player in the country in the 247Composite rankings.

Florida cornerback commit Vernon Hargreaves III put himself in elite company when he won the Guy Toph Award on Thursday.

But on Thursday morning, he received another award that took him by surprise.

The star cornerback was named the 74th Guy Toph Award winnder, given annually to the top senior football player in talent-laden Hillsborough County.

"I'm still kind of in shock that it happened," Hargreaves told the Tampa Bay Times. "I didn't really now that people thought so highly of me. It has to be the top thing that I've gotten this year."

The award is believed to be the oldest high school award given, dating all the way back to 1939.

The University of Florida has certainly had its share of success recruiting Guy Toph Award winners, and Hargreaves will join the ranks of some of the top football players to go from Hillsborough County to Florida.

Skipper Peek, the 1975 award winner who went on to play cornerback at Florida, touched a little bit on just how meaningful the award is.

"Within the Hillsborough County area, it's kind of like a baby Heisman Trophy," Peek said. "The thing that kind of made the Guy Toph Award special was Dr. Toph also emphasized leadership and academics and character.

"It's kind of one award that encapsulates excellence in not just athletics but in other parts of life. As time goes on and went on, it became more and more meaningful to me. It's a pretty cool award."

Peek picked off three passes in the 1977 season for the Gators, and he is far from the only Guy Toph Award winner to make an impact in Gainesville.

Some of the famous names that litter the list of former winners are wide receiver Andre Caldwell, offensive lineman Mike Pearson, quarterback John Reaves and running backs Rick Casares and Larry Smith.

Casares was a two-way star at Florida, playing football and basketball. He's in Florida's Athletic Hall of Fame after playing for the Bears and setting the franchise's all-time rushing records, which were later broken by one Walter Payton.

Caldwell is Florida's all-time leading receiver, and a littany of other former winners went on to grace Florida Field, including Joey Nicoletto, Kirk Kirkpatrick, Mark Ely and Jimmy Dunn.

With his name now on the list, Hargreaves III will have a lot to live up to.

His recognition as a player with good character on and off the field makes him a perfect fit for Will Muschamp and the Gators.

"I think Muschamp's a super high character guy, and I think that's really important in terms of the leadership of a team," Peek said. "The players he's brought in have been a huge factor in their success."

NOTES

* Florida has also been burned by a few former Guy Toph Award winners. Kirby DarDar, the 1989 winner, went on to Syracuse and helped spring a famous 38-21 upset of Steve Spurrier's then-No. 5 Florida team. DarDar ran back the game's opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.

* Last year's award winner was Nelson Agholor, who spurned Florida for Southern California on National Signing Day.

* Skipper Peek and his son Scott (a one-time walk-on who was awarded a scholarship for the 2011 and 2012 seasons) both wore No. 16 at Florida, the same number Hargreaves plans to wear.

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