Since age 2, Wharton High junior defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III has been surrounded by football.
His father, Vernon Hargreaves Jr., played collegiately at Connecticut and is currently the defensive backs and special teams coach at South Florida.
Growing up around football has given Hargreaves an above average football IQ for a high school athlete, and it's his knowledge of the game — along with his standout speed and skill — that sets him apart.
"He's been around the game for so long," Wharton coach David Mitchell said. "He has so much confidence in himself that he can play well."
Last season, Hargreaves had 44 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks and 16 pass deflections for the 3-7 Wildcats. This season, Mitchell said he'll also play Hargreaves (6-foot, 180 pounds) at receiver, quarterback and kick returner.
"He's a good athlete," Mitchell said. "He is in all aspects of the game."
But it's in the secondary where Hargreaves shines. He set an individual goal of recording five interceptions this season.
"I have good ball awareness," he said. "I know where the ball is going."
Aside from his knack for being around the football (he had a fumble recovery and blocked punt last season) Hargreaves said being physical with receivers is his strong point. Since his freshman year at Wharton, he has added 40 pounds.
"I'm getting bigger, faster and stronger," he said. "I can jam (receivers) and not let them get off the line."
"He's going to shut guys down," Mitchell said. "Everybody is going to get beat at least once and that's OK. He's aggressive and you don't want to stop him from being aggressive."
This summer, Hargreaves picked up offers from Miami, Florida State, Florida and of course, South Florida, after a strong showing at camps at Florida and FSU. His father has preached the value of being patient and staying humble through the recruiting process and focusing on helping his team.
"He jokes about USF and how he wants to me to come there, but he hasn't been like 'I want you to go here or I want you to go there,' " he said. "He wants me to go where I'm happy."
With two years of varsity left in his high school career, Mitchell expects Hargreaves to become an elite defensive back.
"He knows what it takes to get better," Mitchell said. "He's a level-headed guy."