When Vernon Hargreaves signed on to come play for Florida, it was a big deal. The five-star cornerback recruit was seen as a shutdown corner who could singlehandedly take receivers out of games. Add him to an already strong cornerbacking core of Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson — both likely headed to the NFL after this season — and the Gators secondary could be deadly.
One might worry that Hargreaves would take some time to adjust to the college level, though. Except Hargreaves’ emergence didn’t take much of an adjustment period, or any at all really. His first interception came in the season opener against Toledo.
And then, after Roberson went down with an injury against Miami, Hargreaves stepped in and picked up three solo tackles and another interception.
Now, through four games, he has three picks, seven tackles (six solo) and four pass break-up. The interceptions and break-ups put him in the top ten nationally in each category. Did I mention he’s a true freshman?
His presence has improved an already vaunted defense and added electricity to the sideline that comes along with young guys garnering success early on.
And here’s the scariest thought:
According to NFL Draft Scout, Purifoy is expected to go No. 27 in the 2014 Draft, while Roberson is projected to go No. 60. Where in the world would Hargreaves be projected to go were he not a freshman?
No. 18 Florida (3-1, 2-0) hosts unranked Arkansas (3-2, 0-1) at 7 p.m. tonight in the Swamp. The Gators are currently 13.5-point favorites, according to several reputable betting sites. The Gators come in fresh off their dominating road win against Kentucky, while the Razorbacks come to town riding a two-game losing streak. They lost at Rutgers two weeks ago, before falling by 12 points to No. 10 Texas A&M last week.
The thing is, though, the Aggies don’t have much of a defense, and the Gators do. Arkansas’ passing game is abysmal (177 YPG), so they shouldn’t expect much there. And their strong running game (237 YPG) will likely be somewhat neutralized against Florida’s front seven.
I think Tyler Murphy showed last week that he can manage a game well, and that’s all he’ll need to do to win this one. I’ll take the Gators in their final tune-up before traveling to No. 10 LSU next week.
Florida 27 Arkansas 13
What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments below.