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New Buc Vernon Hargreaves ready for challenge of big receivers

TAMPA — The day after the Bucs drafted him with the No. 11 pick, Vernon Hargreaves was introduced at One Buc Place, donning his No. 28 jersey and reminding that while he might be a bit undersized, his confidence is not.

"Confidence isn't something that leaves you," said Hargreaves, the former Wharton High and Gators star who joins an upgraded defensive secondary. "It's something you have, and it's kind of like a trial-and-error thing. I'm going to go in and whatever happens, happens. I'm going to get beat, and if I get beat, I have to bounce back."

The Bucs have taken only one other cornerback in the first round in the past 30 years — Aqib Talib in 2008 — and Hargreaves, 5 feet 10 and 205 pounds, is ready to go up against NFL receivers, even significantly larger challenges such as Atlanta's Julio Jones and Carolina's Kelvin Benjamin.

"It's going to be exciting," Hargreaves said. "I'm ready to showcase my skills. You really see how good you are on Sundays. It's a whole different ball game. You have to be elite, so I'm excited to showcase my skills."

Hargreaves — knowing full well he has Warrick Dunn's old number and the respect that it commands — was joined by his family, which has called Tampa home since father Vernon Jr. was a USF assistant from 2010-12. He's an assistant at Arkansas now, but the family still lives in Tampa and is thrilled to have their son around again.

"It is wonderful. There is no better joy, no better feeling than to have your son come home," said his mother, Jackie. "And he's a mama's boy. He just fakes it. He's a mama's boy."

Hargreaves' mother said some of her son's swagger and toughness rubbed off from early years growing up in Miami, when his father was a Hurricanes assistant and their babysitters included Miami stars like Edgerrin James, Vince Wilfork, Reggie Wayne and Dan Morgan.

"He just saw the mental toughness in them, and he kind of followed right behind them," she said.

Before he came to call Tampa home, Miami was his first football inspiration, and Wayne and the late Sean Taylor were his first role models in football. Hargreaves said he'll work hard to continue his success, like them, at the highest level.

"I knew that I wanted to be like them when I grew up," he said. "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."

Times staff writer Matt Baker contributed to this report. Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

Gators turned Bucs

Vernon Hargreaves became the highest of the 10 Gators ever drafted by the Bucs at No. 11 overall. How Times staff writer Greg Auman ranks them:

9. Robert Morgan, FB, 10th round, 1977: Never played a down for the Bucs.

8. Ahmad Black, S, 5th round, 2011: Played parts of three NFL seasons, finishing with 41 tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble, with three career starts.

7. Jimmy DuBose, RB, 2nd round, 1976: Lasted only three years due to injury, rushing for 704 yards and four touchdowns. He had Bucs' first-ever 100-yard rushing game in 1978 but was injured later in the same game and never played again.

6. Jason Odom, OT, 4th round, 1996: Back injury forced his retirement in 2001, but he had 41 starts in his four seasons in Tampa Bay.

5. Jacquez Green, WR, 2nd round, 1998: Played four seasons with the Bucs — and one with Steve Spurrier's Redskins in 2002 — finishing with 162 catches for 2,311 yards and seven career touchdowns.

4. Reidel Anthony, WR, 1st round, 1997: Taken with the 16th overall pick, he played five years in the NFL: 144 career catches, 1,846 yards and 16 touchdowns, including seven in 1998.

3. Kenyatta Walker, OT, 1st round, 2001: Taken with the 14th overall pick, Walker started at right tackle in the Bucs' Super Bowl win in 2003. Started 73 games before his career ended after just six seasons.

2. Errict Rhett, RB, 2nd round, 1994: Rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, totaling 18 touchdowns. But a holdout cost him half of 1996, and he was gone after four seasons, finishing his career with the Ravens and Browns.

1. Scot Brantley, LB, 3rd round, 1980: Played eight seasons for the Bucs and made 71 career starts, with eight career interceptions and five sacks. Probably best known as a longtime radio personality in the Tampa market.

New Buc Vernon Hargreaves ready for challenge of big receivers 04/29/16 [Last modified: Friday, April 29, 2016 11:15pm]
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