TAMPA, Fla. -- Five-star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, Fla./Wharton) had his choice of all-star events, but his decision to participate in the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game was a pretty easy one.
"Well you know I wear a lot of Under Armour clothes and I heard they give you a bunch of new stuff there," Hargreaves joked. "That was the selling point for me."
In all seriousness, Hargreaves talked about the challenges he will face during the week of practice at the Disney Wide World of Sports in Orlando and in the game itself on Jan. 4 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
While he has had the opportunity to meet several of the nation's top offensive stars through national showcases like The Opening and Gridiron Kings, he wasn't able to compete at The Opening due to injury and played safety at Gridiron Kings.
Hargreaves will be in his comfort zone at the UA Game – going head-to-head against the top receivers in the nation. And the nation's top cornerback wouldn't have it any other way.
"That's why you play in a game like this or in the top national camps," Hargreaves added. "You want that top competition. Everyone can tell me how good I am but I'm always trying to get better, and in order to succeed at the next level you have to keep challenging yourself."
In spite of his lofty ranking, Hargreaves admittedly wasn't a believer until he played for his Tampa-based all-star 7-on-7 team that won the IMG Madden Football national championship over the summer in Bradenton, Fla.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior dominated the competition during the tournament, showing advanced ball skills and coverage ability.
"Playing with Team Tampa was a big deal for me because I got a chance to compete against my friends like Alvin [Bailey]," Hargreaves said. "And we're battling every week during the offseason and getting better."
Bailey and Hargreaves will be teammates at Florida in a few short months. Hargreaves chose the Gators over Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, USC and several other top BCS programs.
The fourth-ranked player in the ESPN 150 says he remains a solid commitment and is not even entertaining other programs for official visits.
"I'm happy with the choice I made," Hargreaves said. "I took a look at some other programs and there are a lot of great places to play football at. However, for me the best place was The Swamp, and that's what I'm looking forward to."
Hargreaves, who plays both ways, for Wharton, has three interceptions and two fumble recoveries through seven games this season. He also has four touchdowns on offense. But it's the little things that separate Hargreaves from other top talents, according to Wharton head coach David Mitchell.
"Vernon is a terrific leader, he's a natural leader and he's gotten more vocal recently," Mitchell said. "He always led by example but now he demands effort from his teammates. He's a coach's son and he has all those natural motivational qualities in him."
Hargreaves final game as a high school football player will happen just 45 minutes from his home and he expects a lot of friends and family to make the short trip to Tropicana Field to support him.
"It's going to be fun to have all my family there to watch me," Hargreaves said. "And with Alvin and Leon [McQuay] in the game as well, I'll be sharing the field with my close friends."