Defense Shines in Showcase Game
Sat. January 05, 2013 at 6:15 p.m. | By Blake Hasenzahl
From left to right: Highlight MVP Vernon Hargreaves, Highlight coach Herm Edwards, Nitro coach Steve Mariucci and Nitro MVP Reuben Foster. (Photo by BLAKE HASENZAHL | Special to The Ledger)
By BLAKE HASENZAHL
LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
ST. PETERSBURG | The Under Armour All-American game is the first chance for future college football players to play on the big stage.
However, only half of them showed up, and all of them were on defense, as the Highlight defeated the Nitro 16-3 in front of a crowd of 20,087 at Tropicana Field on Friday night.
The MVPs from each team, Florida commit Vernon Hargreaves (Highlight) and Reuben Foster (Nitro) played defense. Hargreaves, No. 3 on the ESPN Top 150 and the No. 1 DB in the country, out of Wharton High School in Tampa, put on a show for the national audience.
Hargreaves had an interception, a pass break up in the endzone, three passes defended and three tackles.
"Anytime you get talented players you're always a better coach for it," Highlight head coach Herm Edwards said. "He's got a good skill set, he's athletic and I like his ability to play with eyes. That's hard to teach, but he has that ability to do that. He's gonna be a good player."
For Hargreaves, it wasn't about who he played with or against, this game was a confidence booster.
"I seen that I can play with the best," he said. "I'm more confident in (the) game and more confident in what I can do. … I just can't wait to get to Florida."
He was part of a secondary that gave up just 12 completions on 41 attempts for 109 yards and intercepted four passes.
Florida commit Kelvin Taylor, No. 15 on the Top 150 and the No. 1 running back in the nation, was held to just four rushes for 14 yards for the Highlight.
The Highlight also had the No. 1 ranked quarterback in the nation on their team in Chris Hackenberg.
Ryan Green, a Florida State commit from St. Petersburg, rushed for 13 yards on just two carries to lead the Nitro in rushing yards.
Kevin Olsen and Brice Ramsey split time at quarterback for the Nitro.
Ramsey will be seeing Hargreaves for years to come as a member of the Georgia Bulldogs and Olsen will be playing for the Miami Hurricanes.