Justin Hargrove has definitely waited his turn. Initially a 2006 signee, with high school teammate Jason Pinkston, Hargrove suffered a head injury during his senior season that forced him to defer to the 2007 season. He redshirted that season, and began his career as a linebacker before moving to defensive end.
By the time he was able to get to the two-deep, he had to wait his turn behind sophomores Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus. Still, he played in five games that year. He saw less time in 2009, playing in two games, as Sheard and Romeus became every-down players at defensive end.
Hargrove stuck it out, having a good camp in 2010, which led to him playing in ten games. He started in the BBVA Compass Bowl, finishing with three tackles and a sack.
All the perseverance paid off, and has carried through now to his final year. With a new coaching staff, Hargrove has picked up where he left off at the end of the 2010 season. He’s had a very good spring working with the first-team unit at defensive end for much of the spring. Co-defensive coordinator admits that Hargrove is a player that you don’t hear about too much. He feels at the rate is going, he has a chance to not only start in 2011, but also be an impact player.
“Hargrove is rock solid,” Patterson said. “There’s a guy we hardly talk about, because he’s just solid. I feel very good about Hargrove.
“He really has (progressed). A lot of it has been that we’ve wanted to develop other guys at other positions. He’s one of those—he’s just a steady role player that does all the dirty work, and just does what he’s supposed to do pretty much all the time. That’s what’s been so good for him.”
Hargrove has also taken notice of his progression, but is more humble about his progress and waiting his turn. He credits players like Sheard and Romeus for helping in his development.
“Staying healthy, getting comfortable with the scheme, buying into everything that we’re doing,” Hargrove said. “It was a lot of hard work, being behind Jabaal, an All-American, a great defensive end. It helped, getting some tips from them, working together, watching film, helping each other. It helped a lot.”
After working his way up in the previous system, Hargrove feels there’s not much he needs to do to adjust to the new scheme. His position might look a little different in a 3-4 scheme, but at the same time, he feels there are some things that are similar.
“There’s not too much of a difference,” Hargrove said. “It’s pretty much the same thing, just getting off the ball, on the edge, it’s all the same.”
He’s also been excited with the new coaching staff, despite playing his entire career under Dave Wannstedt and Greg Gattuso who recruited him out of high school. He likes the challenges that the new staff has put before him. Judging by Patterson’s view of how he’s played this spring, he’s adjusted pretty well.
“There’s not too much of a challenge,” Hargrove said. “You just have to do what the coaches ask you the first time, and just get the job done. With (defensive line) coach (Paul) Randolph, it’s just listening and doing what I have to do each play, the schemes and all that. Coach Randolph is energetic.”