Vernon Hargreaves enters his second season as the linebackers coach at the University of Houston.
Coaching staffs that included Hargreaves have advanced to bowl games in 13 of the last 16 seasons including back-to-back BCS National Championship appearances while at Miami in 2001 and 2002. Hargreaves' 2001 linebackers helped to lead a Miami defense that allowed just 9.4 points per game en route to a national title. Hargreaves has been on the coaching staff for the No. 2 (+2.36 - Miami, 2001) and No. 14 (+1.92 - Houston, 2013) best turnover-margins in NCAA History.
Hargreaves' linebackers were instrumental in Houston ranking as the third-most improved defense nationally. Efrem Oliphant (134) and Derrick Mathews (116) led the team in tackles and tackles for loss with 13 and 12, respectively. Mathews led all linebackers in The American with seven sacks while Oliphant ranked 12th national with 10.3 tackles per game.
In his three seasons at USF, Hargreaves helped lead a defense that finished among the Big East leaders. In 2011, Hargreaves' defensive ends helped USF finish second nationally in tackles for loss and fourth nationally in sacks while only allowing 107.3 rushing yards per game, good for 15th in the NCAA ranks. The unit helped South Florida win its fourth bowl game in school history with a 31-26 win over Clemson in the 2010 Meineke Car Care Bowl.
Hargreaves' first year at the USF saw the Bulls' defense rank 17th nationally in total defense, 317.9 yards per game, 22nd in scoring defense, 20.0 points per game, and 22nd in rushing defense with 125.6 yards per game. The Bulls led the Big East in tackles for loss while finishing fourth in the conference in sacks.
Prior to his time in Tampa, Hargreaves spent three seasons in charge of East Carolina's defensive ends and special teams. In addition to being a part of a coaching staff that appeared in a bowl in all three of his seasons in Greenville, N.C., Hargreaves was instrumental in the development of a pair of All-Conference USA performers, five game-winning field goals and college football's all-time leading career kickoff return specialist at the time.
Under Hargreaves' leadership, defensive end C.J. Wilson was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 after leading the Pirates with 10.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. Fellow end Zack Slate was not far behind with five sacks on the season.
ECU special teams under Hargreaves flourished as well. His 2007 kickoff return unit ranked 13th nationally with an average return of 24.3 yards per return while the punting unit led Conference USA in net punting in both 2008, when it finished ninth nationally with a net average of 37.9 yards per punt, and in 2009, when it finished seventh nationally with a net average of 39.1 yards per punt.
Hargreaves also helped East Carolina star Chris Johnson earn All-America honors his senior season as he completed the 2007 season as one of the country's top return specialists. In the kicking game, Hargreaves' field goal unit accumulated five game-winning field goals in his three years while kicker Ben Hartman ranked 10th nationally with 1.91 field goals per game in 2008.
Prior to spending the 2006 season at Florida International, where he coached Lombardi Award nominee Keyonvis Bouie, Hargreaves enjoyed a successful eight years at Miami in which the Hurricanes advanced to a bowl each season including back-to-back BCS National Championship appearances and the 2001 BCS Championship.
During his time at Miami, Hargreaves enjoyed a run of eight consecutive bowl appearances beginning in 1998 which resulted in victories against N.C. State (Micron PC), Georgia Tech (Gator), Florida (Sugar, Peach), Nebraska (Rose) and Florida State (Orange).
Credited with molding some of the nation's top linebackers while in Coral Gables, Hargreaves saw Dan Morgan win the Butkus Award, Nagurski Trophy and the Bednarik Award in 2000 and Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams finish as semifinalists for the Butkus Award in 2003. The three would all later be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, three of Hargreaves' seven linebackers to be drafted with the Miami program.
During Miami's 12-0 national championship season in 2001, which was capped by a 37-14 win over Nebraska in the Rose Bowl, Hargreaves helped guide a Hurricane defense that allowed just 9.4 points per game, only 138.2 passing yards a contest while netting a +2.36 edge in turnover margin. A year later, UM's defense surrendered a paltry 119.7 passing yards per game on the way to a 12-1 campaign that concluded with a title game appearance against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Hargreaves accepted his position at Miami after 13 seasons on the University of Connecticut staff, where he was outside linebackers coach from 1985-89 and inside linebackers coach from 1989-97. While at his alma mater, he played a pivotal role in the development of Paul Duckworth, who was a sixth-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 1994.
A native of New Haven, Conn., Hargreaves earned a bachelor's of science degree in sociology from Connecticut in 1986. Prior to graduation, he was a four-year football letterman for the Huskies, who earned All-America honors as a junior and senior linebacker.
He still ranks fifth on the UConn career tackles list with 393, holds two of the top-10 single-season tackle marks and stands as one of only eight Huskies to register 20 tackles in a single game (vs. Holy Cross in 1983). At the end of his collegiate career, Hargreaves signed a free agent contract with the Cleveland Browns and played professional football in Italy.
In 1998, Hargreaves was named a member of UConn's 100th Anniversary Team commemorating the greatest players in the football program's first century. On March 24, 2007, he was inducted into the inaugural class of New Haven's James Hillhouse High School Athletic Hall-of-Fame after earning all-state honors as a prep standout in the late 1970s.
C.J. Wilson (East Carolina), Packers
2007 Conference USA Def. POY
Chris Johnson (East Carolina), Titans
Rocky McIntosh (Miami), Lions
D.J. Williams (Miami), Bears
2002 Butkus semi-finalist; 2003 All-Big East;
2003 Butkus semi-finalist
Jonathan Vilma (Miami), Saints
2003 All-Big East; 2003 Butkus finalist;
2002 All-Big East; 2002 Butkus semi-finalist
2001 All-Big East
Dan Morgan (Miami)
2000 Butkus Award; 2000 Bednarik Award
2000 Nagurski Award; 2000 All-American
2000 Big East Def. POY
Nate Webster (Miami)
1998 All-Big East; 1999 All-Big East