TAMPA — The nation’s top high school cornerback was caught flat-footed Thursday morning.
Earlier in the week, Wharton senior Vernon Hargreaves III had been told by his mom he was due at the Hillsborough County school district’s downtown office for a student-athlete ceremony, but wasn’t given the specifics until waking up Thursday.
That’s when Jackie Hargreaves told her son he was being presented the 74th Guy Toph Award as Hillsborough County’s top senior football player. A University of Florida commitment, Hargreaves is the first Wharton player to win the honor, generally considered the county’s Heisman.
“I’m still kind of in shock that it happened,” said Hargreaves, MVP of the recent Under Armour All-America Game and the nation’s top high school defensive back according to ESPN. “I didn’t really know that people thought so highly of me. …It has to be the top thing that I’ve gotten this year.”
The presentation of the Guy Toph capped an hourlong fall sports award presentation at the Raymond O. Shelton Administrative Center. Robinson OG/DT Bruce Hector, a USF commitment with a 3.2 GPA, won the Jimbo Kynes Outstanding Lineman Award. Steinbrenner won the academic award for possessing the highest team GPA (3.38).
And when did Hector learn he had won? “When they called my name,” said the first-team Class 5A all-state defensive lineman. “I didn’t think I was getting anything. I thought I was coming for (retiring) coach (Mike) DePue. So it’s just, shocking or whatever.”
Hargreaves’ classmate, Caci Andreychuk, won the Kirkwood Volleyball Award as the county’s top senior player. An outside hitter with a 4.2 GPA, Andreychuk led Wharton in kills three of her four seasons, guiding the 2012 team to a 25-3 record.
Sickles senior Abdin Fator and Plant senior Julia Rodriguez were the male and female winners, respectively, of the Dr. Ben Walker Cross Country Award. Rodriguez, who owns a 5.76 GPA, finished ninth at the Class 4A state meet despite battling mononucleosis;Fator, who has a 4.07 GPA, won six races including the county and district meets during his breakthrough senior year.
Gaither senior Jimmy Stanger and Wharton MVP Shannon Clark were the respective male and female recipients of the Casey Most Valuable Golfer Award. Stanger, a Virginia signee, won district and region titles before placing third at the Class 2A tournament in October. Clark, an ROTC officer, is a three-time region qualifier.
Newsome’s Maddie Hess, who won a pair of 3A state individual titles and swam on a gold medal-winning Wolves relay team, was female winner of the Hicks Family Award for Outstanding Swimmer. King’s Eric Chao, who had 19 career top-10 postseason finishes and ranks second academically among the school district’s 11,787 International Baccalaureate students, was the male recipient.
2012 Fall Academic Award Winners (highest team GPA)
Football: Steinbrenner (3.38)
Volleyball: Plant (3.72)
Boys Cross Country: Newsome (3.75)
Girls Cross Country: Plant (3.796)
Boys Swimming: King (3.497)
Girls Swimming: Plant (3.591)
Boys Golf: Plant (3.464)
Girls Golf: Sickles (3.58)