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Wake Forest adds 25 on signing day

Jim Grobe AP

(Below is Wake Forest’s press release on the players added as part of its 2013 recruiting class.)

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Wake Forest head football coach Jim Grobe on Wednesday announced the addition of 25 newcomers to the Demon Deacon football squad. Grobe announced the signing of 22 prospective student-athletes to National Letters of Intent and also released the names of three newcomers who enrolled at Wake Forest in January.

The signing class consists of players from 12 states including five from Florida and four each from Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. In addition, the Deacons received commitments from players in Alabama, California, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The class is evenly distributed on both sides of the ball. Wake Forest is adding 14 defensive players, 10 on offense, and one kicker.

The 25 signees mark the most since Grobe became head coach prior to the 2001 season. The previous largest class was 23 in 2003.

The Deacons will welcome four new offensive linemen including center Cory Helms (6-4, 290) from Milton High School near Atlanta and his high school teammate Josh Harris (6-4, 290). Wake Forest will also add linemen Cameron Gardner (6-5, 275) from Bailey, NC (Southern Nash) and Taylor Chambers (6-8, 300) from Columbia, SC (Irmo).

Three receivers will join Wake Forest next fall including wideout Tyree Harris (6-2, 180) of Marietta, GA (Marietta). The Deacons also signed a pair of tight ends/H-backs in Cam Serigne (6-3, 215) of Ashburn, VA (Briar Woods), and Brendan O’Neil (6-4, 220) of Burlington, MA (Buckingham Browne and Nichols).

Wake Forest added a quarterback in 6-3, 195-pound Michael Radford of Charlotte, NC (Country Day). Two running backs also inked with the Deacons. Dez Wortham (6-0, 205) of Frisco, TX (Hebron) is coming off ACL surgery last fall and John Armstrong (5-9, 165) of Orlando, FL (Olympia) has all the tools to become a slot receiver.

On defense, Wake Forest added five outside linebackers to fit its 3-4 scheme. The quintet includes Julian Thomas-Jackson (6-4, 210) of Dothan, AL (Dothan), Wendell Dunn (6-3, 210) of Miami, FL (Palmetto), Lance Virgile (6-2, 220) of Fort Lauderdale, FL (St. Thomas), Ali Lamot (6-2, 200) of Mebane, NC (Eastern Alamance) and Duke Ejiofor (6-4, 220) of Houston, TX (Alief Taylor).

Both of Wake Forest’s new inside linebackers are already enrolled and will participate in spring drills. They include Marquell Lee (6-3, 220) of Pomfret, MD (Westlake) and Ford Howell (6-1, 225) from Memphis, TN (University School).

The Deacons will add five newcomers in the secondary including cornerbacks Deonte Davis (5-10, 170) of Snellville, GA (South Gwinnett), Josh Okonye (6-0, 185) of Sugar Land, TX (George Ranch), Brad Watson (6-0, 170) of Round Rock, TX (Round Rock), and Jalen Latter (6-0, 185) of Charlotte, NC (Vance) as well as safety Michael Stevenson (6-0, 175) of Clearwater, FL (Central Catholic).

Along the defensive front, Wake Forest signed Andrew Hauser (6-2, 235) of Covina, CA (Charter Oak). The Deacons have James Looney (6-3, 275) of Lake Worth, FL (Lake Worth) on campus as an early enrollee. Looney, a projected nose guard, is the younger brother of former Wake Forest All-ACC guard Joe Looney, now with the San Francisco 49ers.

Wake Forest also added a kicker/punter in Mike Weaver (6-1, 180) of Pine City, NY (Elmira Southside). Weaver has been out of high school for two years while pursuing college football opportunities after a stellar amateur soccer career.

Notes
• Lance Virgile, from St. Thomas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is from the same high school that produced Wake Forest great Brian Piccolo. The stadium at St. Thomas is named after Piccolo. At the time Piccolo attended the school, it was known as Central Catholic.
• With the addition of OL Josh Harris, Wake Forest will have three players named Josh Harris on next year’s squad. The senior Harris is a running back from Duncanville, Texas who has rushed for 1,760 career yards. He will be a senior in 2013. Another Josh Harris is a walk-on defensive back from Raeford, NC who did not see any game action last fall. The newest Josh Harris is an offensive lineman.
• The largest signing classes in the Grobe Era include this year’s group of 25, followed by 23 in 2003, and 22 in 2005 and 2000.
• Quarterback Michael Radford’s father, Michael, Sr., was a guard at Marshall when Jim Grobe was an assistant coach with the Thundering Herd (1979-83).

(Writer’s note: below the jump are the complete bios of all 25 members of Wake Forest’s 2013 recruiting class.)

John Armstrong RB 5-9 165 Orlando, FL (Olympia)
Earned all-state honors (Class 8A) in 2012 . . . Ranked No. 23 in the Orlando Sentinel’s Central Florida Super 60 . . . Had 980 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior to go with 269 receiving yards on 30 receptions and three receiving scores . . . Averaged better than 17 yards per kickoff return as a senior . . . Scored five touchdowns in a 41-27 win over West Orange as a senior . . . As a junior, led Olympia in rushing (1,101 yards), touchdowns (19), receptions (60) and receiving yards (653) . . Has 4.4 speed in the 40 . . . Played at the same high school as Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans and broke Johnson’s season rushing record . . . Ranked No. 17 on the Bright House Sports Network list of top players in Central Florida . . . As a high school freshman, scored on a 62-yard run on his first varsity carry . . . Played for Coach Bob Head . . . Also had offers from Duke, Illinois, Iowa State, Cincinnati, East Carolina, and Temple . . . . Is the cousin of Alton Howard, a freshman receiver for the Tennessee Volunteers . . . Recruited by Tom Elrod.

Taylor Chambers OL 6-8 300 Columbia, SC (Irmo) Named first team all-state in South Carolina in Class 4A . . . Graded out at 92 percent for the season . . . Preseason All-State pick in 2012 by MaxPreps . . . Helped lead the Yellow Jackets to the second round of the state playoffs as a senior . . . Rated the No. 18 prospect in South Carolina by Rivals.com . . . Played for Coach Bob Hanna . . . Invited to San Antonio for the Army All-American game following the 2012 season . . . Selected to the North team for the South Carolina North-South All-Star game . . . Born Jan. 11, 1995 . . . Son of Tom and Angela Chambers . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.
Former Deacon from the same high school: DL Don Richardson, 1984 letterman

Deonte Davis CB 5-10 170 Snellville, GA
(South Gwinnett)
A two-year starter for South Gwinnett . . . Saw action at both cornerback and safety . . . Earned honorable mention All-Gwinnett County honors . . . Helped the Comets to a 10-3 record including a first round victory over Milton High . . . Played for Coach John Small . . . Played in the Rivalries of Gwinnett All-Star Football game following his senior season . . . Was a middle school teammate of current Deacon WR Jonathan Williams . . .Played in Region 8-6A . . . Had offers from Air Force, Colorado State and Navy among others . . . Recruited by Brian Knorr.

Wendell Dunn OLB 6-3 210 Miami, FL (Palmetto)
Honorable mention all-state Class 8A at linebacker as a senior . . . Four-year starter for the Lancers . . . Had 95 tackles and four interceptions as a junior . . . Runs a 4.7 in the 40 . . . Started his career has a safety . . . Selected for the Under Armour All-American game . . . Ranked as the No. 54 OLB in his class by Scout.com . . . His uncle, Jermaine Chambers, was a wide receiver with the Miami Hurricanes . . . Played for Coach Matt Dixon . . . Also had offers from Central Florida, UConn, West Virginia . . . Recruited by Ray McCartney.
Former Deacons from the same high school: C Dick Penn (1964-66); LB/C Bo Williams (1965-66)

Duke Ejiofor OLB 6-4 220 Houston, TX (Alief Taylor)
Honorable mention All-Greater Houston selection . . . Named one of the top 100 players in the Houston area by the Houston Chronicle . . . Was an honorable mention selection in District 18-5A . . . Had 58 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, three forced fumbles and six pass break-ups as a senior . . . Runs a 4.53 40 and has a 39 inch vertical leap . . . An honor roll student at Alief Taylor High School . . . Helped the Lions to an 8-4 record and a district championship in 2012 . . . Played for Coach J.D. Jordan . . . Also is a high jumper in track for the Lions . . . Son of Samuel and Franca Ejiofor . . . Born April 24, 1995 . . . Had offers from Houston, Rice, Kansas and TCU . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.

Cameron Gardner OL 6-5 275 Bailey, NC (Southern Nash)
First team all-state pick in 3A by NCPreps.com . . . Was the anchor for an offensive line that produced Southern Nash’s top two all-time leading rushers . . . Helped the Firebirds to an 8-3 record and a second place finish in the Big East Conference in 2012 . . . Played for Coach Brian Foster at Southern Nash High . . . Also throws the shot put in track . . . Missed three games during his senior season after dislocating his thumb . . . Enjoys fishing and 4-wheeling . . . Son of Jeff and June Gardner . . . Born Sept. 16, 1995 . . . Chose Wake Forest over NC State, Virginia Tech and Penn State . . . Will be 17-years old when camp starts in August . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.

Josh Harris OL 6-4 290 Milton, GA (Milton)
Earned first team all-state and all-region 5-6A honors as a senior . . . Rated the No. 41 offensive guard in the country and the No. 73 prospect in Georgia by Rivals.Com . . . Three-year letterman as an offensive lineman at Milton High School . . . High school teammate of fellow signee Cory Helms . . Played for Coach Howie DeCristofaro . . . Helped the Eagles to a 7-3 record and a berth in the state playoffs as a senior . . . All-region selection as a junior . . . Invited to the 2013 Offense Defense Showcase Bowl . . . Also wrestled as a junior and senior . . . Qualified for sectionals as a junior . . . Full name is Joshua Thomas Harris . . . Born May 14, 1995 . . . Son of Tom and Kim Harris . . . . Had offers from Maryland, North Carolina and South Florida . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.

Tyree Harris WR 6-2 180 Marietta, GA (Marietta)
First team All-Region 4-6A as a senior . . . A first team All-Cobb County pick by the Marietta Daily Journal and honorable mention all-state . . . Member of the Marietta Daily Journal’s Dynamite Dozen . . . Helped the Blue Devils to the second round of the 6A state playoffs in 2012 . . . Three-year starter . . . Had six receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown vs. Lovejoy in the playoffs . . . Had a 30-yard touchdown reception in the opening round of the playoffs at Marietta upset Valdosta Lowndes . . . Team finished the year 8-4 . . . Had 48 receptions for 856 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012 . . . Set the school record for receiving yards and TD catches in a season . . . Finished his career with 114 catches for 1,914 yards and 18 touchdowns . . . Played for Coach Scott Burton . . . Played in the Cobb All-Star Senior Bowl following the 2012 season where he had five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown . . . Was selected to the inaugural High School Clash of Scholar Athletes Game which featured the Palm Beach County, Fla. All-Stars vs. Atlanta All-Stars . . . Chose Wake Forest over Mississippi State . . . Also had offers from Auburn, Georgia Tech, Louisville and NC State . . . Recruited by Brian Knorr.
Former Deacon from the same school: LT Hank Hames (1967)

Andrew Hauser DE 6-3 265 Covina, CA (Charter Oak)
Named first team all-area as a senior by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune . . . Earned All-Sierra League honors at linebacker as a senior . . . Played for Coach Lou Farrar at Charter Oak . . . Had 13 tackles and a pair of sacks vs. Chino Hills . . . Started his career at Bishop Amat as a sophomore offensive lineman and helped the Lancers to a 9-2 record . . . Transferred to Charter Oak High and sat out his junior season in order to gain eligibility . . . Recruited by Ray McCartney.

Cory Helms C 6-4 290 Alpharetta, GA (Milton)
An all-metro, all-region and high school All-American . . . Earned first team All-Region 5-6A honors as a senior . . . Was the starting center for the Blue team in the Offense-Defense All-America Bowl in Houston . . . Ranked as the No. 9 center nationally and the No. 58 prospect in Georgia by Rivals.com . . . High school teammate of Josh Harris . . . Played for Coach Howie DeCristofaro . . . Full name is Cory Scott Helms . . . Born Dec. 31, 1994 . . . Son of Scott and Sharon Helms . . . Had 11 offers including South Carolina, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.

Ford Howell ILB 6-1 225 Memphis, TN (University School)
EARLY ENROLLEE . . . Joins Wake Forest from Memphis, Tenn. University School . . . A 6-1, 225-pound linebacker . . . First team All-State Division II-AA by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association . . . Helped the Owls to the AA Division 2 state championship game in 2012 . . . Had 72 solo tackles and 13 tackles for loss as a senior . . . Added five sacks, 11 quarterback hurries and a pair of interceptions . . . All-state, all-region and all-metro selection as a senior . . . Also named an AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School All-Star . . . Named to the Best of the Preps team by the Memphis Commercial Appeal . . . As a junior, had 60 tackles and three tackles for loss . . . Helped University School to an 8-4 record and the state semifinals in 2011 . . . Runs a 4.7 40 . . . Played for Coach Bobby Alston . . . Son of Jim and Ann Howell . . . Was also offered by NC State . . . Recruited by Steed Lobotzke.
Former Deacon from the same high school: C Russell Nenon (2007-10)

Ali Lamot OLB 6-2 200 Mebane, NC (Eastern Alamance)
First team all-state Class 3A by NCPreps.com . . . Had 101 tackles as a senior including 74 solos, 17 sacks and 20 quarterback hurries . . . Helped the Eagles to a 12-2 record and the third round of the state playoffs . . . Tied for fourth in the state with 17 sacks as a senior . . . Earned all-region honors in football as a junior . . . Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 30 prospect in North Carolina . . . Played at Eastern Alamance for Coach John Kirby . . . Finished second in the region in the 110 meter hurdles in the spring of 2012 . . . Also played basketball at Eastern Alamance . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.
Jalen Latter CB 6-0 185 Charlotte, NC (Vance)
Signed as an cornerback . . . Versatile athlete who played both quarterback and cornerback at Charlotte Vance High School . . . Threw for over 1,600 yards as a senior with 16 touchdowns . . . Also rushed for 400 yards and six touchdowns . . . Had offers from Air Force, Navy and Charlotte . . . Recruited by Tim Duffie.
Former Deacons from the same high school: OT Wesley Bryant (2003-05)

Jalen Latter CB 6-0 185 Charlotte, NC (Vance)
Signed as an cornerback . . . Versatile athlete who played both quarterback and cornerback at Charlotte Vance High School . . . Threw for over 1,600 yards as a senior with 16 touchdowns . . . Also rushed for 400 yards and six touchdowns . . . Had offers from Air Force, Navy and Charlotte . . . Recruited by Tim Duffie.
Former Deacons from the same high school: OT Wesley Bryant (2003-05)

Marquell Lee LB 6-3 200 Pomfret, MD (Westlake)
EARLY ENROLLEE . . . Played at Westlake High in Waldorf, Md. . . . A three-year starter for the Westlake Wolverines . . . Earned honorable mention all-state as a senior . . . First team All-Southern Maryland Athletic Conference at linebacker . . . Helped Westlake to the Maryland Class 3A South Region final . . . The Wolverines finished the season 8-4 . . . Had 12 tackles and a fumble recovery vs. Huntingtown during a regular season victory . . . Had an interception in the South Region semifinal win over Potomac and a fumble return for a touchdown vs. Lackey . . . Made 14 tackles vs. Calvert . . . Considered the Wolverines’ emotional leader . . . Played for Coach Marlon Curtis as a senior . . . Had 70 tackles as a junior while also throwing for over 800 yards as a quarterback . . . Ranked No. 36 on the Chose Wake Forest over Maryland . . . Recruited by Jonathan Himebauch.

James Looney DL 6-3 275 Lake Worth, FL (Lake Worth)
EARLY ENROLLEE . . . . Graduated from Lake Worth (Fla.) Community High School in December and enrolled at Wake Forest in January, 2013 . . . First team All-State Class 7A on the offensive line . . . Also earned first team all-Palm Beach County honors . . . Member of the Sun-Sentinel Super 11 . . . Projected as a defensive lineman for the Deacons . . . Rated the No. 14 player in Palm Beach County on The Big Board . . . Served as a team captain as a senior . . . Missed three games as a high school senior with a pulled muscle in his hip . . . Had two sacks and a forced fumble against Atlantic . . . First team All-Palm Beach County as a junior as he registered 60 tackles and two sacks . . . Played for Coach Errick Lowe . . . Had over a dozen offers from major colleges . . . Younger brother of former Deacon Joe Looney, now with the San Francisco 49ers . . . Recruited by Ray McCartney.
Former Deacons from the same high school: DE Todd Middleton (1987-89), LB Scott Shelhamer (1989-92), OG Joe Looney (2008-11)

Josh Okonye CB 6-0 185 Sugar Land, TX (George Ranch)
Played at George Ranch High School in its first season of football . . . Helped the Longhorns to a 5-5 record . . . Projected as a cornerback for the Deacons . . . Was a second team Texas Academic All-State selection . . . First team All-District 23-4A selection at defensive back . . . Has 4.72 speed . . . Played for Coach Ricky Tullos . . . Also runs track where he has been a regional qualifier in the 200 meters . . . Member of the National Honor Society . . . Born June 5, 1995 . . . Son of John and Philo Okonye . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.

Brendan O’Neil TE 6-4 220 Burlington, MA
(Buckingham Brown and Nichols)
Rated the No. 5 prospect in Massachusetts and the No. 39 tight end in the nation . . . As a senior, earned NEPSAC Lineman of the Year, All-ISL, All-New England, Boston Herald All-Scholastic . . . Named All-Scholastic by the Boston Globe . . . Selected team offensive MVP and All-ISL at tight end as a junior . . . Earned honorable mention All-Independent School League as a sophomore . . . Has also played defensive end for the Knights . . . Also captains the BBN basketball team . . . Played for Coach John Papas . . . Son of Chris and Cathy O’Neil . . . Father, Chris, played football at UMass . . . Rated the No. 88 TE by Scout.com . . . Had offers from Connecticut, UMass and Temple . . . Recruited by Steed Lobotzke.

Michael Radford QB 6-3 195 Charlotte, NC (Country Day)
Quarterback at Charlotte Country Day . . . Considered a dual-threat quarterback with the ability to run as well as throw . . . Led Country Day to the state semifinals before suffering a concussion and missing the semifinal game . . . Completed 78 of 159 passes for 1,625 yards and 21 touchdowns with just seven interceptions . . . Carried the ball 110 times for 707 yards and seven touchdowns . . . Helped lead the Buccaneers to a 9-2 record in 2012 . . . As a junior, threw for 1,519 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 750 yards and 20 touchdowns . . . Played for Coach Bob Witman . . . Parents and Michael and Tammy . . . Michael, Sr. was a guard at Marshall when Jim Grobe was an assistant coach with the Thundering Herd . . . Fielded offers from Charlotte, Marshall and Presbyterian . . .

Cam Serigne TE 6-3 215 Ashburn, VA (Briar Woods)
Helped Briar Woods to a 15-0 record in 2012 and a 42-3 record over the past three seasons . . . Led the Falcons to three consecutive AA Div. 4 state titles from 2010-2012 . . . Earned first team all-state honors as a tight end and was also all-region as a defensive end . . . First team All-Washington Metro . . . Had 56 receptions for 937 yards and 11 touchdowns while serving as a captain in 2012 . . . Had a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown in a first round playoff win over Powhatan in 2012 . . . Set Briar Woods’ career records for receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches . . . Selected to the South team in the 2012 Chesapeake Bowl . . . Earned first team all-district, all-region and all-state as a junior . . . Had 53 receptions for 709 yards and 10 touchdowns during the 2011 season . . . Had 43 receptions for 438 yards as a sophomore . . . Projected as a tight end/H-back at Wake Forest . . . Played for Coach Charlie Pierce . . . Also lettered in baseball . . . Son of David and Michelle Serigne . . . Ranked as the No. 45 tight end in the class of 2013 by Scout.com . . . Had offers from James Madison, Air Force and Ohio . . . Recruited by Steed Lobotzke.

Michael Stevenson S 6-0 175 Clearwater, FL
(Central Catholic)
A first team all-state Class 3A pick The No. 59 safety in the country as rated by Rivals.com . . . Played at Clearwater Central Catholic . . . Played for Coach John Davis . . . Had 91 tackles and three interceptions as a senior . . . Helped the Marauders to a school-record 11 wins as CCC reached the Class 3A state semifinals . . . Had offers from South Florida, Central Florida, Pittsburgh and West Virginia . . . Recruited by Tim Duffie.

Julian Thomas-Jackson OLB 6-4 210 Dothan, AL
(Dothan)
Had 141 total tackles as a senior including 110 solos and 33 tackles for loss . . . Collected seven sacks in earning team defensive MVP honors . . . Played OLB in a 3-4 scheme as a senior after working at ILB in a 4-3 as a junior . . . Team tackle leader and defensive MVP . . . . Was at Oxford (Miss.) High School as a freshman and sophomore before moving to Dothan for his final two years of high school . . . The Tigers were 6-4 in 2012 . . . Played for Coach Kelvis White . . . Son of James and Elaine Byrd . . . Born March 7, 1994 . . . Brother Alan Thomas played defensive end at Ole Miss from 2009-11 . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.

Lance Virgile OLB 6-2 220 Ft. Lauderdale, FL
(St. Thomas)
Rated the No. 25 OLB in the nation by ESPN and No. 55 by Rivals.com . . . Played at St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale, the same high school that produced Wake Forest legend Brian Piccolo (though the school was known as Central Catholic at the time) . . . Helped the Raiders to a 13-2 record and the Florida 7A state championship . . . A two-year starter . . . Lost in the regional finals in 2011 . . . Member of the U.S. National U-19 team . . . Ranked as the No. 82 OLB by Scout.com . . . Played his home football games in Brian Piccolo Stadium . . . Played for Coach Rocco Casullo . . . Recent NFL Hall of Fame inductee Cris Carter is an assistant coach for the Raiders . . . Had offers from Houston, Louisville, NC State and West Virginia . . . Recruited by Ray McCartney.
Former Deacons who attended the same high school: FB Brian Piccolo (1962-64), RT William Salter (1963-64), C Mike Nesselt (1981-84), K Danny Nolan (1983), DB Ulysses Robertson (1990-92), TE Ben Stafford (1996-99), LB Mike Simmons (2004-07)

Brad Watson CB 6-0 170 Round Rock, TX
(Westwood)
Member of the Texas Class 5A Region 2 Elite Team . . . A three-year letterman and starter at Westwood High School . . . Has the ability to play either corner or safety . . . Named to the Academic All-District team . . . Helped the Warriors reach the third round of the Texas 5-A Division 1 playoffs . . . Had 55 tackles, three interceptions and seven pass break-ups as a senior . . . Added two touchdown receptions as a receiver to go with an interception return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown . . . . The Warriors won back-to-back 5A Division 1 area championships in 2011 and 2012 . . . Had 67 stops, three interceptions and seven pass break-ups as a junior . . . Made eight career interceptions and totaled over 150 tackles for his career . . . Played for Coach Anthony Wood . . . Also runs track where he competes in the 200 meters and the long jump . . . Son of Carlton and Alexis Watson . . . Born August 20, 1995 . . . Recruited by Derrick Jackson.

Mike Weaver P/PK 6-1 180 Pine City, NY
(Elmira Southside)
A 2010 graduate of Southside High School in Elmira, NY . . . Was primarily a soccer player until playing just his senior year of football . . . Played varsity soccer starting in the seventh grade . . . Ran track and also played basketball for the Green Hornets . . . Has been out of high school for two seasons while pursuing college opportunities . . . Booted five field goals in just four varsity football games . . . Punted six times for a 53.0 average . . . Nailed a 42-yard field goal on his first career attempt in high school . . . Named Southside’s Special Teams Player of the Year and was invited to the Ernie Davis Senior Bowl Game . . . Earned West All-Division honors in soccer in 2007 . . . Won a pair of state championships while playing soccer for BC Fusion as a striker and midfielder . . . Son of Rick and Lori Weaver . . . Born Aug. 12, 1991 . . . Also had offers from Cincinnati and Miami (Fla.) . . . Recruited by Billy Mitchell.

Dez Wortham RB 6-0 205 Frisco, TX (Hebron)
Tore his ACL in the fifth game of his senior season . . . Had 115 carries for 745 yards before being injured in mid-October . . . Scored seven touchdowns and had 12 receptions for 100 yards in four and one-half games . . . Rushed for 797 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman in high school . . . Went over the 1,000-yard mark as both a sophomore and junior . . . The Hawks reached the Texas 5A playoffs in 2012 . . . Had offers from Kentucky, Colorado State, Connecticut and Houston among others . . . Recruited by Tim Duffie.

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Tennessee will once again checker-out Neyland Stadium

Florida v Tennessee

Last year was so successful, Tennessee is going to do it again.

Tennessee fans started a grassroots effort to check-out Neyland Stadium last season, giving a fresh and unique spin on the whole concept of decking the entire crowd out in one uniform color. This even goes beyond the stripe-out efforts that have started to crop up around the country. The movement caught fire and Tennessee’s athletics department helped finalize the final efforts to make it a reality. Now they are ready to give it another whirl.

Though it had been speculated as a likely event, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones confirmed today Tennessee will deck the fans out in the coordinated orange and white for the home game against Oklahoma on September 12.

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LSU adds second Super Bowl-esque halftime show

Aloe Blacc

Forget about laser light shows and well-choreographed halftime shows by marching bands. LSU is attempting to raise the bar when it comes to halftime entertainment.

Fans attending LSU home games this season will be treated to two shows more likely to resemble a Super Bowl halftime concert than a traditional college football halftime show with the band or bands taking the field. Earlier this week LSU announced a performance by One Republic at halftime of the October 17 game against Florida. Today came another halftime performance announcement. Aloe Blacc has been added to the line-up this season, with a November 14 halftime performance when LSU takes on Arkansas.

“Another Saturday in Tiger Stadium just got bigger,” said Don Green, president of College Live LLC, in a released statement. “It is very exciting to bring great artists into Tiger Stadium to play with LSU’s Golden Band from Tigerland. These unique performances will only add to the reputation of Tiger Stadium being one of the greatest places to watch football.”

Well, some traditionalists may be well-suited to bicker with that last statement from Green. These types of halftime shows tend to detract from the football game itself, but we’re not exactly ready to leap into a world where every week college football teams are going to have Super Bowl-elaborate performances. And at least it makes for a unique experience for the folks in the LSU marching band, right?

Give LSU credit. In an age where college football administrators are focused on finding new and creative ways to enhance the gameday experience as attendance issues continue to grow, LSU is thinking outside the box by bringing in live performers for fans to enjoy, some more than others. Although Aloe Blacc is scheduled to perform a song titled “I Need A Dollar,” which feels oddly appropriate given the nature of college football these days.

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Temple’s P.J. Walker gains maturity as he preps for Penn State

P.J. Walker

It is not often Temple enters a season with high expectations, but that appears to be the case with the Owls in 2015. Though other teams may be favored to make a run in the American Athletic Conference (Cincinnati is the preseason favorite), many have been lauding Temple’s returning experience this fall. No team can match the experience Temple brings back in 2015 with 10 defensive starters and seven more on offense set to return. It is what Temple does with that experience that matters most, and head coach Matt Rhule feels his quarterback, P.J. Walker, is ready to take the next steps entering his third year under center.

“In the history of Temple, there are only a couple of guys that have been bowl-eligible quarterbacks,” Rhule said in a story published by CSN Philly. “To me, it’s just taking the next step and it’s just one simple thing and one simple thing only: don’t turn the football over as much.”

Walker had 15 interceptions last year, so Rhule’s concern is valid. Fortunately, Rhule also sees improvement in his quarterback in practices.

“You see a totally different kid maturity-wise,” he said. “Not that he was an immature kid; he just understands more and more of the game. He is a winner. My point to him was keep winning. He got us to six wins. Now make the next jump.”

Rhule will see his quarterback put to the test on Saturday afternoon. Temple opens the season at home against Penn State, which should bring a strong defensive secondary to Lincoln Financial Field.

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Florida QB Treon Harris gets the start, but Grier will play too

Florida Spring Game

Florida used to be known for playing multiple quarterbacks, and it helped Steve Spurrier take the Gators to an elite status and helped Urban Meyer win his first national championship. New Gators coach Jim McElwain may not have that kind of quarterback pool to swim in down in Gainesville, but he will continue this Florida tradition to open the season. Well, technically.

McElwain announced today Treon Harris will be the starting quarterback for the Gators when they host New Mexico State on Saturday. Will Grier will also get some playing time though.

“This is still a painting in progress,” McElwain explained. “This is two guys pulling in the same direction to help this football team.”

Like a handful of teams around the country, there simply is no clear winner in the quarterback competition at Florida just yet, so seeing what each can do in a live game situation can be critical. This holds especially true at Florida with a brand new head coach who has not previously worked with either player during the course of the regular season.

Harris played in nine games last season for the Gators, in which he completed 49.5 percent of his pass attempts for 1,019 yards and nine touchdowns with four interceptions thrown. Grier was a four-star dual-threat quarterback recruit for Florida in the Class of 2014. Despite enrolling early at Florida in 2014, he did not play last season and was able to save the season with a redshirt.

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Kyle Flood fires back at latest incriminating story

Kyle Flood

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is none too pleased about anonymous sources from Rutgers leaking information about an investigation to the media. Whether he violated university policy or directions or not, Flood has a legitimate gripe.

Earlier today NJ.com reported the latest developments on the investigation involving the head football coach, in which Flood is accused of intentionally going around the backs of academic support staff instructions to contact a professor at the university directly with regard to the eligibility of one of his players. After initially declining to comment on the latest story earlier in the day, Flood let it pour out.

As transcribed by CoachingSearch.com;

“Let me ask this question before I respond: What you’re saying to me is, that a process that I’ve been told from the university not to comment on was commented on by people from the university?” Flood said. “I’m going to continue to respect the process, and I won’t have any further comment until the end of the process.”

Again, whether Flood was in the wrong or not with his alleged actions, he absolutely has a right to be upset about this development. If he was given instructions not to comment on the investigation, then nobody else from the university should have shared pertinent information either. The fault here is not on the report from NJ.com or any other outlet that followed up with commentary on the report, but on the anonymous sources that shared the information.

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TCU defense will be down two players against Minnesota

Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl - Mississippi v TCU Getty Images

The names of two defensive players not playing the season opener at Minnesota have not been confirmed by head coach Gary Patterson, but the release of the Horned Frogs’ depth chart seems to draw some conclusions. Defensive end James McFarland and cornerback DeShawn Raymond were not listed on the depth chart for the season opener, which would seem to strongly suggest which two players will not be available for the game, for whatever reason or reasons that may be.

Patterson offered no information regarding the identities of the two players he said will miss the game, saying only “You’ll find out when we get to game time.”

McFarland was TCU’s leading sack master last fall with seven sacks. His defensive efforts earned him MVP honors in TCU’s blowout win over Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. McFarland did miss some practice time this spring as he worked to get his foot back in good order. Whether an injury is the reason McFarland may not be available is unknown, as Patterson has designed.

If nothing else can be learned from a batch of the season’s opening depth charts, it is that coaches do not like to tip their hands. the number of quarterbacks listed with “or” by their names has become a bit of a humorous trend as coaches look to hide as much information as possible entering the first games of the season, and this is no different.

TCU’s defense is actually one of the bigger questions for the Horned Frogs this season, which seems to go against the grain when it comes to a Patterson-coached team. But even without a couple of players for the opener, it is expected Patterson will find a way to figure enough out on defense to give TCU a chance to make a run in the Big 12 and perhaps the playoffs.

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Nebraska’s Mike Riley accused of fostering sexually violent culture that led to rape in 1999

Mike Riley

Well, this is certainly among the last things Nebraska head coach Mike Riley would have liked to see just days before starting a new season at his new job. A former student at Oregon State has filed a Title IX lawsuit that blames Riley of failing to address an allegedly sexually violent culture at Oregon State, which allegedly led to a rape back in 1999.

According to a report from The Oregonian, the woman filing the lawsuit claims she was raped on October 9, 1999 while a freshman at Oregon State. According to the alleged victim’s story, she attended an off-campus party, passed out and was escorted to an apartment she claims some Oregon State football players lived. It is there she claims to have been raped.

“She was being sexually assaulted by the young man who had offered her the beer,” the suit says. “She was unable to move her arms or legs to fight back. She faded back out of consciousness.”

The alleged victim filed a report in the next 48 hours to an Oregon State sexual assault counselor and claims that counselor attempted to persuade her to thinking she consenting to the sexual interaction. The suit claims that counselor attempted to prevent the victim from pursuing any other assistance on the manner. This lawsuit now intends to correct a wrong that allegedly happened more than a decade ago, and Riley has been thrown into the mix as well. The alleged victim was inspired to come forward after a previous report on another victim surfaced in 2014, in which that woman claimed to have been raped by two Oregon State football players in 1998 in the same apartment complex.

Riley is accused of not addressing the culture of his football team with regard to sexual violence. While he ultimately is not responsible for the action of players under his watch, it is his responsibility to ensure his players are aware of the consequences for putting the football program in a negative light. The sad reality is, whether Riley is to blame or not for what occurred at Oregon State, there is no telling how many of these sorts of cases are out there hidden in the shadows by victims on campuses across the country. The awareness has certainly grown in more recent years, but the turn of the century was a completely different environment, and the decades going back likely have more dark tales that may never be told.

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Report: Kyle Flood defied Rutgers academic support staff

Kyle Flood

Last week it was reported Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood was being investigated for alleged impermissible contact with a university faculty member. The latest twist in this story suggests Flood may have done so despite being advised not to do so by academic support staff members.

A new report from NJ.com cites multiple unnamed university officials in saying Flood was instructed by academic support staff not to make contact with a professor to inquire about the academic standing of one of his players, reported to be cornerback Nadir Barnwell. The university is investigating an email allegedly from Flood from a private account. But the scope of the investigation is focused more on the possibility Flood tried to work around the process regarding academics and football, not simply just that Flood used a private email to contact a professor.

While only one side of the story, the story painted by the NJ.com is none too flattering to Flood’s involvement with the status of Barnwell. Per the report, academic support staff had been communicating with a professor of Barnwell’s since May with regard to his academic standing. Flood was kept apprised of the situation, which is customary for an academic support staff and coach. However, one source to NJ.com suggests Flood attempted to intervene directly with the professor with regard to Barnwell’s eligibility despite the academic support staff handling the situation.

Per NJ.com’

“The communication with him was clear as to the status of Nadir’s grade and he still decided he could fight it,” said one official, who claimed Flood “had a long paper trail of information” and still contacted the professor.

Another official said: “It was already done and everybody in the program knew it. Kyle was told, ‘It’s done, leave it alone.’ ”

If found guilty of violating university protocol, the punishment for Flood could range from something as light as a reprimand to as severe as the termination of his contract. The Big Ten already had one coach fail to reach the start of the new season. The chances a second loses his job before kickoff are probably pretty small.

Flood responded to the initial report last week by saying the accusations insulted his integrity. When given an opportunity to respond to this latest development in the story, Flood did not comment out of respect for the university process.

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Washington State and C. Michigan to tangle in 2019 & 2021

Washington State and Central Michigan have agreed to a future home-and-home series that will see the Pac-12 and the world of MACtion cross paths. That could be a lot of fun, but we will have to wait for this particular series to begin.

Washington State will visit Central Michigan on September 14, 2019. Central Michigan will make the return trip two years later on September 4, 2021. Barring any potential bowl meetings before 2019, the 2019 meeting will mark the first in the series history between the two schools. The addition of Central Michigan to the 2019 schedule also completes Washington State’s non-conference portion of the schedule. The Cougars will also host Northern Colorado (Sep 7, 2019) and BYU (Oct 12, 2019). Central Michigan still has two vacancies to fill in 2019 and three in 2021. The Chippewas play at Wisconsin the week before hosting Washington State in 2019.

The series was put together by athletic directors Bill Moos (WSU) and Dave Heeke (CMU), who were former colleagues at Oregon in the past (according to The Seattle Times).

Unlike the ACC, Big Ten and SEC, the Pac-12 does not require its members to schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent. BYU does count toward satisfying those requirements though in each of those conferences, so if the Pac-12 did adopt a similar policy the Cougars would be in the clear by having BYU on the schedule in 2019.

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Clemson AD: ACC needs to prove itself on the field (again)

Steven Duggar, Thomas Brittle

For years the message from ACC commissioner John Swofford was the conference needed to win big game against other top conferences on the field. Despite some good results in recent years, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich says the conference will once again have to change the narrative circling its conference by winning big game son the field.

“I think the ACC is a very, very good league. In some ways, it’s underrated,” Radakovich said in an interview with ESPN.com. “But like everything else, you need to go out and do it on the field. You’ve got to win games.”

The ACC went 4-7 in bowl games last season, which included losing seasons in head-to-head bowl matchups against the Big Ten (0-2), Pac-12 (0-2, including Florida State’s College Football Playoff loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl) and the SEC (1-2). The ACC did win its only bowl match-up against the Big 12 with Clemson demolishing Oklahoma. The ACC also ended the regular season with four wins against SEC rivals, which should not be forgotten.

“We’re only [a year] from having a national champion, and Florida State obviously made the playoff last year. Our program has done well,” Radakovich explained. “Georgia Tech always seems to be in the mix and obviously did a great job last year in their bowl game. Virginia Tech traditionally has done very well. Louisville is a team that needs to be reckoned with. And Miami with all their history and tradition is one that everybody is waiting for them to get back to the Miami of old. So I think the league as a whole is still very, very good. But you have to prove it on the field.”

The importance on an entire conference winning big games in the regular season showed its value last season. The Big 12 had co-champions in Baylor and TCU with identical 11-1 records. One of the biggest criticisms of the Big 12 was the overall body of work, not just for Baylor but the conference as a whole. The Big 12 lacked key victories in non-conference games outside of TCU beating Minnesota and Oklahoma topping Tennessee. Not only is a school’s individual body of work important when assessing playoff contenders, but the conference’s overall reputation can help push a team into the playoff when push comes to shove. It is why you are already hearing some ask the question of whether or not a 2-loss SEC champion should still have a spot reserved in the postseason dance this fall. It is a question worth asking because the SEC has raised the bar and has a number of high-quality non-conference matchups lined up to fall back on.

But narratives are not part of the equation in the selection committee’s meeting rooms, says Radakovich.

“As a member of the playoff committee, people came in and had done their homework and had looked at the leagues they were first assigned to look at, and college football in general. They all came in prepared to talk about each team. There were no narratives brought into the room.”

What narratives won’t be discussed by the selection committee this season? We’re going to find out soon enough.

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Rutgers to name starting QB… at halftime?

Kyle Flood

By default we already know who the starting quarterback will be for Rutgers in the season opener against Norfolk State. Hayden Rettig has already been reported to be the starting quarterback for the Scarlet Knights in the first game of the season while Chris Laviano sits out the first half of the game. Laviano was suspended by the program for a violation of team rules in late August, but he — along with wide receiver Leonte Carroo — will be eligible to return to the game in the second half.

This is when Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood is expected to announce his quarterback decision for the 2015 season.

“Hayden Rettig is the starting quarterback,” Flood said, according to NJ.com. “We’re going to evaluate the first half and we’ll make a decision at halftime as to how we’re going to proceed.”

Rettig and Laviano had been competing for the starting job as Rutgers looks to replace Gary Nova. There had been no real separation in the competition out of the spring and over the course of the summer, and it would seem the first-half suspension has not put much jeopardy in Laviano’s chances to claim the starting job. Opening against an FCS program is always a good opportunity to play multiple quarterbacks if there is still a question to be answered at the position, and Rutgers has some time to work through the situation before entering Big Ten play.

It might be good for Flood if he can get it figured out a little bit earlier though as Washington State is scheduled to pay a visit in Week 2. The Cougars are known to move the ball through the air with Mike Leach at the helm, and Washington State is looking to avenge last season’s wild season-opening loss at home to Rutgers. Rutgers visits Penn State in Week 3 to open the Big Ten schedule.

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CFT 2015 Preseason Preview: SEC Predictions

As the 2015 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we will be examining the home of the defending national champion, the Big Ten. 

And while we’re at it, check out some of our other Power Five conference predictions HERE (ACC), HERE (Big 12) and HERE (Big Ten) as the CFT team continues to take its month-long glimpse of the upcoming season.

SEC EAST

1. Georgia (10-3; beat Louisville in Belk Bowl)
There is one certainty when it comes to the East: UGA will not finish lower than third, a low-water benchmark for each of Mark Richt‘s 14 seasons in Athens that has included five division titles — none since 2012, though.  They return the most talent of any team in the division, although the fact that they opted for Grayson Lambert as the starting quarterback has me second-guessing my prediction.  It’s been a decade since UGA’s last SEC championship, and if they’re going to get back to that level they’ll have to do so with a schedule that includes both Alabama and Auburn as well as a road trip to Tennessee.  Still, anything less than an East title and a spot in the SEC championship game would be decidedly disappointing — and would lead to yet another offseason of “is it time to go in another direction?” speculation.

2. Tennessee (7-6; beat Iowa in Taxslayer Bowl)
Am I a year early with this lofty projection?  Possibly, especially given the team right below them.  Still, there’s no denying that Butch Jones has stuffed his talent cupboard after the barren years under his predecessor, Derek Dooley.  The Vols closed out last year on a positive note, going 4-1 down the stretch — the lone loss coming by eight to Mizzou — capping it off with an impressive 45-28 win over the Hawkeyes in the bowl game.  That final flourish coincided with Josh Dobbs‘ ascension as the starting quarterback.  With the scintillating playmaker poised to build off his first season at this level, the Vols could very well challenge both UGA and Mizzou for East supremacy.

3. Missouri (11-3; beat Minnesota in Citrus Bowl)
“Here we go again, denigrating the two-time defending East champion Tigers.” — the two Mizzou fans who frequent this site, probably.  And, actually, that’s an understandable reaction, given how the Tigers have been the class of the division the past two seasons.  They’re also one of the few teams in the conference that returns its starting quarterback.  Still, there are concerns along the defensive line — they return just five starters on that side of the ball, period — and their schedule doesn’t do them very many favors as they play at Georgia and Arkansas as well as play host to Mississippi State.  It wouldn’t shock me, though, if Mizzou made it three straight titles.  In fact, the only thing that would shock the system is if they finish outside the top three in the division.

Continue reading »

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Nick Saban, winner of four national titles, says he should have won four more

Nick Saban

Winning a national championship is hard. Winning two can be even harder. Three or four? Nearly impossible in today’s world, but Alabama head coach Nick Saban has been the coach to have done it four times (one with LSU, three with Alabama). Ohio State’s Urban Meyer has three under his belt (two with Florida, one with Ohio State) and is looking for a fourth this season as well. Saban has proven capable of amassing enough talent to have a national title contender on an annual basis, but has ended the year with a postseason loss each of the past two seasons. That does not sit well with the Crimson Tide head coach, who said in a radio interview yesterday he feels he should have won four more national titles.

“We haven’t finished the season in the last two seasons like we’d like,” Saban said to ESPN’s Paul Finebaum (per Atlanta Journal-Constitution). “People talk about you won four national championships. Well, I feel like we’ve had good enough teams to win eight. So I feel like we failed four times. I feel like I failed four times.”

Alabama had a chance last season as the top seed in the new College Football Playoff. The Tide were turned aside by Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl semifinal game. The previous season Alabama missed a chance to play for the national title when Auburn stunned them in the Iron Bowl with the Kick-Six, knocking Alabama out of the SEC Championship Game out of the SEC West and relegating Alabama to a Sugar Bowl match-up with Oklahoma instead. You might say Alabama was one win away from a national championship each of the past two seasons. Alabama may have been a favorite against Jameis Winston and Florida State in the final BCS National Championship Game two seasons ago, and Alabama may have been a favorite against Oregon in last year’s College Football Playoff national championship game.

Saban also reflected on his coaching future while on air with Finebaum. He showed no sign of contemplating retirement, suggesting if he is in good enough shape to play golf for 16 more years, he should be able to coach as well. Saban will turn 64 years old this October.

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Could Sun Belt futures of Idaho, New Mexico State be in doubt?

Have you or anyone you know ever had one of those moments where you say something out loud during a conference call thinking your line is on mute – only it’s not? Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson may be fighting that feeling right now.

In a conference call heralding the addition of Coastal Carolina, Benson acknowledged far west members Idaho and New Mexico State could be on the chopping block.

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In his defense, Benson only acknowledged the obvious. Considering the Big 12 and ACC-led legislation allowing leagues to hold title games outside the 12-plus team, two-division structure should pass before Coastal Carolina joins the conference in 2017, adding a 12th team for the sake of holding a conference championship game makes about as much sense as…. having your conference footprint spread from Moscow, Idaho to Myrtle Beach, S.C.

That’s not to say the Vandals and Aggies should go packing their bags, however.

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Still, chalk that decision up to a commissioner throwing cold water on a line of questioning that he himself opened.

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Georgia (finally) receives approval for indoor facility

Georgia Southern v Georgia

For years, Georgia’s indoor facility was like that swarm of African killer bees you heard about as a kid: rumored to be on its way, though no one ever actually laid eyes on it.

Well, the bees have arrived.

The University of Georgia athletics board has approved construction on a $30 million indoor facility, to break ground after the 2015 season. The facility will run 140 yards long, 80 yards wide and 76 feet high.

Previously, the Dawgs bussed to the Atlanta Falcons facility when Mother Nature deemed necessary, a wart on the program coaches say was used against Georgia on the recruiting trail.

“I know he is excited for this day to come,” athletics director Greg McGarity said of head coach Mark Richt. “He is chomping at the bit to send renderings to prospects and team members and the coaching staff. And now we’ve got that done.”

“I know our competitors are not going to say nothing bad about the coaching staff here, they’re not going to say nothing bad about the people here because it’s a great place,” defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said last November. “One thing they’re going to say is, and that they’ve always said is, ‘How important is football at Georgia if they don’t have an indoor practice facility?’ Well they won’t be able to say that anymore.”

Half of the $30.2 million will come through the department’s reserve fund, and the other half through fundraising. Construction is expected to be complete “hopefully early on” in 2017.

“Getting the $15 million raised as quickly as possible would be optimal,” Georgia president Jere Morehead told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Here’s hoping the Dawgs can keep those bees out.

 

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