When former Florida defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, it was a dream fulfilled in more ways than one.
Not only was Hargreaves an NFL player, but he was also returning to his home city of Tampa, Fla., where he initially excelled as a player. The Buccaneers targeted the hometown kid from the start.
“When he came in he was very calm, very confident, very competitive,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Litch said in a draft night video produced by the team’s website. “Once we had the opportunity to get him, it was a no-brainer.”
The former Gators defensive back admitted that nerves began to set in when Tampa Bay traded back two spots in the first round from No. 9 to No. 11. But, the homecoming came true after the New York Giants passed on Hargreaves at No. 10, instead opting for Ohio State defensive back Eli Apple.
“My hands started sweating, I was nervous, my heart started beating, Hargreaves said. “They (the Buccaneers) picked up the phone and said ‘you ready to come home?’ It’s still surreal.”
If Hargreaves gets his way, he’ll never play another home game away from his birthplace.
“He’s got roots in the community,” Litch said. “He wants to stay here. He wants to finish his career here.”