All-everything Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is widely regarded as not just the Gators' best player by far, but one of the best players in college football. And Jim McElwain has already installed Hargreaves as Florida's starting punt returner, in an effort to maximize the value of his special athleticism.
So it's not really that surprising that McElwain has ideas for VH3 on offense, right?
TIR: Junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III might have been the top player selected at his position in April's NFL Draft had he been eligible for it. You've faced some great corners during your coaching career. Where's he rank?
McElwain: Vernon is as good a player in all aspects of the game as I've been around. Let me say this too, the guy loves to practice. He's not a prima donna, which really to me is what sets him apart. I'll go ahead and tell you, but we've got packages for him on offense too.
TIR: Care to elaborate?
McElwain: (Laughs) I'll leave it at that.
Considering the apprehension — ranging in grade from caution to "I HATE THIS!" loathing — that VH3 as returner has met from Florida fans this offseason, that idea is sure to get some Gators up in arms.
But it's also worth remembering that there was a lot more talk of using Loucheiz Purifoy on offense during the 2013 offseason than there has been about Hargreaves pulling double duty — really, this is the first anyone's made mention of the prospect — and Purifoy never really made an impact as an offensive player in 2013. Purifoy had one carry for 15 yards on the season, and played very sparingly as a wideout, thanks partly to injuries forcing him to play nearly every snap on defense.
McElwain's also said that Hargreaves working as a returner was part of "building his brand," and there's no doubt that getting him some work on offense may make him seem even more special.
If VH3 is going to be deployed on the side of the ball more foreign to him, though, Florida must do it judiciously. While McElwain's still in his honeymoon period, an injury to his best defender that occurs while he moonlights on offense would spark a firestorm of criticism.