ORLANDO — This wasn’t the way Vernon Hargreaves expected to end his Florida career.
Not only were the Gators demolished 41-7 by Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, but Hargreaves, who is regarded as one of the best corners in the nation, was also at the mercy of Michigan wide receiver Jehu Chesson on two separate occasions in the final game of his collegiate career.
Chesson made Hargreaves look silly in the second quarter when the Wolverines dialed up a double-move for him. Hargreaves bit on the move and was left in the dust as Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock found Chesson for a 31-yard touchdown.
Florida coach Jim McElwain had warned his players to watch out for double-moves during the week, but Hargreaves didn’t see it coming, and it put Michigan up 14-7.
Hargreaves’ second miscue came in the third quarter when Chesson beat the All-American corner at the line of scrimmage and Rudock found him again, this time for a 45-yard gain.
Just like the rest of UF’s defense in the bowl game, he lacked the energy that the unit brought the entire season.
"I would think he would be disappointed. You know, it happens. Great corner, still the best corner," Gators cornerback Jalen Tabor said.
"But sometimes teams use your aggression to their advantage."
Before the season started, Hargreaves said at Southeastern Conference Media Days that the NFL Draft was the first thing on his mind. He was anticipating that he would duplicate the success he had in his first two seasons and then declare for the draft.
However, there were times this season when Hargreaves just didn’t look like the same player he was during his first two years at Florida.
Even though he set a new career-high with four interceptions this season, the number of pass breakups he had this year went down.
After breaking up a combined 24 passes in his freshman and sophomore seasons, he had just four this year.
Some of that can be attributed to the emergence of Tabor opposite of Hargreaves, but even then, Hargreaves seemed to struggle in ways he never did as an underclassman.
He also dealt with injuries, missing the East Carolina game because of a hamstring injury and exiting the Gators’ 20-14 win over Florida Atlantic early because of a stomach virus.
"It’s not like I’m Superman or anything. Everybody has injuries," Hargreaves said after the SEC Championship Game.
But even after his down season, Hargreaves was still named a unanimous first-team AP All-American despite being outshined by Tabor the entire season.
And on Monday afternoon in an Instagram post, Hargreaves said that he will indeed enter the 2016 draft.
He’s still projected to be a first round pick, even though this season wasn’t up to the standards he set in his first two years.
Follow Luis Torres on Twitter @LFTorresIII