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 [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.