Examining Vernon Hargreaves' custom Tampa cleats
One of our tougher challenges is trying to find something new and interesting about a player we've written about for years.
So with Florida/Wharton High CB Vernon Hargreaves III, I started at the bottom. With his shoes.
You can see the full story here - or in Sunday's Tampa Bay Times - but I kept coming back to the Under Armour cleats he wore at the NFL combine (and his pro day).
Under Armour asked a Maryland artist named Mohammed Gafar to come to the combine to paint custom cleats for prospects. He and his partner at Dez Customz did almost 20 in Indianapolis, but Gafar said he loved the one he did for Hargreaves.
"That was one of my favorites at the combine, honestly," Gafar said. "Just the creativity behind it."
Hargreaves said he wanted a Tampa theme for his cleats. Gafar began searching online and kept seeing the postcard Florida Ave. mural by Carl Cowden III. With Hargreaves' approval, that became Gafar's inspiration.
Gafar said Hargreaves wanted it big - he wanted it to take up the whole left side of his shoe. Some of the other athletes wanted smaller designs. Gafar used a paint specifically made for leather and spent about 90 minutes airbrushing and hand painting Hargreaves' shoes.
"He seemed a lot more passionate about it," Gafar said of Hargreaves' Tampa idea.
Hargreaves isn't the first Gator from Tampa Bay to draw attention for his footwear. Lakewood High product Dante Fowler Jr. turned heads with gold, spiky shoes at the draft last year.
Hargreaves said his ensemble will top Fowler.
"Of course," Hargreaves said. "Put that on record. Dante, I'm coming for you."