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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs first round pick Vernon Hargreaves signs $14.2-million deal, plans to make it pay off

Just before noon on Friday, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the Bucs first-round pick from Florida, signed his name to a contract worth $14.2 million over the next four years, a deal which included an $8.5-million signing bonus and a fifth-year club option. While that's CEO-class money, the former Gators and Wharton High School star then went outside and proved he can deliver a blue collar effort.

Hargreaves led the Bucs' defensive backs through drills at the rookie minicamp, showing off his quick feet, smooth transition and change of direction. When it came time to compete against the offense, he moved from outside playing cornerback to the slot inside as the nickel during passing downs without any fuss.

"It's great to be home. Right in my backyard,'' said Hargreaves, whose mother lives about 25 minutes away. "My biggest thing is, we've got to win. We've got to find ways to win by any means. We've got to find guys that want to win. Obviously this year, we did pick up more guys on defense which will help. Like I said, we need to find guys who want to win.''

There's no question that winning with his hometown team would mean more to Hargreaves. On Friday, he wore the Under Armour cleats he broke out at the NFL scouting combine in February with 'Tampa,' painted on the sides. Over the next two nights, he and his rookie teammates will be forced to stay in a hotel. But he vows to visit his mother for some of her famous chicken fettuccine and garlic bread as soon as practice ends Sunday.

"After minicamp, I'll be right out at the crib,'' Hargreaves said. "But after these three days, it's every night. She's getting a phone call from me.''

"It's awesome. I couldn't have scripted it any better.''

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, who still will call plays for the offense, did not spend much time watching Hargreaves but said assistant coaches raved about him.

The one thing you notice about Hargreaves is his quick feet which always seems to be planted perfectly balanced beneath him. He's also very sudden in and out of his breaks and has great recognition, sometimes running the route for the receiver.        

"I was mostly looking at the other side but I heard all the coaches raving about him,'' Koetter said. Hargreaves also has some physical traits that Koetter believes would make him effective playing inside when teams go to three or more receivers, similar to what Ronde Barber did for 16 seasons.

"It's his quickness and how good of a tackler he is,'' Koetter said. "We're going to start him off working both inside and outside. Both with the vets and with the rooks, we're looking to find that perfect nickel and he's one of the guys we're looking at for sure.''

Hargreaves wasn't the only rookie who garnered some attention Friday. Kicker Roberto Aguayo, the second-round pick from Florida State, was perfect on his two field goal attempts and called stepping onto the practice field at One Buc Place 'a dream come true.''

Aguayo, who grew up near Orlando rooting for the Bucs, said he first kicked at Raymond James Stadium when he was 11 and competing in the Punt, Pass and Kick competion that he won.

"So who would've thought?'' Aguayo said.


[Last modified: Friday, May 6, 2016 6:04pm]


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