July 18, 2014

Everglades OL verbally commits to FIU

Miramar Everglades center Richard Williams, 6-3, 275, Tweets that he's coming to FIU in 2015. Williams was an Honorable Mention on the Associated Press Class 8A All-State team.

Williams isn't rated yet by any of the usual recruiting sites I usually cite here. The Sun-Sentinel ranks him as the 45th best player in Broward's Class of 2015.

July 17, 2014

Who is Terry Bennett?

Jacksonville Atlantic Coast running back Terry Bennett, class of 2015, pledged his body and mind to FIU Thursday.

Bennett's a load, 6-0, 205, and seems to run like it. According to MaxPreps, Bennett ran for 639 yards and 5.1 yards per carry as a junior. He's got three yards and a cloud of dust written all over him at the college level, which means he's perfect for Ron Turner's offense. He's a good enough baseball player to be on Perfect Game's Honorable Mention list for preseason 2014 high school All-Americas.

None of the main sites -- Rivals, 247Sports, Scout.com, ESPN -- have rated Bennett yet.

July 16, 2014

2015 QB commit leads 7-on-7 national champs

Looks like Maurice Alexander's pretty acclimated to Booker T. Washington.

The transfer from Homestead High quarterbacked Booker T.'s 7-on-7 team to the South Florida title earlier this year and, representing the Miami Dolphins, the National Football League High School Player Development national championship in Indianapolis.

Each of the 32 teams at nationals took the names of the team whose regional tournament it won. So, Booker T. or "the Miami Dolphins" beat the "Houston Texans" (Channelview) 37-21 for the "AFC" title Tuesday and routed the "Carolina Panthers" (Mallard Creek) 34-14 in the "Super Bowl" later Tuesday.

June 30, 2014

Should FIU try to get Bethel?

According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas Tech dismissed Nigel Bethel II, a three-star freshman-to-be cornerback out of Booker T. Washington, for what's believed to be punching a women's basketball player.

Bethel drew an Electra 225 trunkload of offers, including one from FIU. He was a hot recruit. He's a radioactive recruit at the moment. He'll find a place in an FBS program. Talent gets many chances. One out of the way, probably, with a small fan base that's too small or apathetic to raise too much of a fuss in comparison with his potential contributions to the team.

Sound like any school you know?

Not saying Ron Turner would pursue Bethel -- in fact, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't -- but should he? I'm not saying he should or shouldn't. I'm not saying Bethel would land at FIU if they were interested. I want to know your opinion on whether or not they should be interested. Should they talk to Bethel, "kick the tires" on him, if you will?

 

June 29, 2014

June 25, 2014

Predictions for 2014 football

 

Yeah, OK, cliche. But "Eye of the Tiger" remains summer music to me. Also, this clip, the best line from the cartoon that was Rocky III, sums up the preseason magazines' projections for this year's football campaign.

Got to my semi-local Barnes & Noble Wednesday to collect the rest of the prognastications after getting Lindy's and Phil Steele earlier.

Athlon's: 2-10, 0-8 in Conference USA, so they're predicting wins in the first two games over FCS foes Wagner and Bethune-Cookman. Ranked 127th out of 128 nationally, ahead of only New Mexico State. In the unit rankings, puts FIU 13th out of 13 in C-USA at quarteraback and wideouts/tight ends, 12th in running bask and linebackers, 11th in offensive line, defensive line and secondary. Incongruently, considering the wide receiver/tight end rankings, sophomore tight end Jonnu Smith is their preseason First Team All-C-USA tight end.

The quote from an opposing assistant says "Their offense is pretty basic, a pro-style offense. They will huddle and do what Ron Turner did somewhere in the NFL."

Kind of what I said when I found out they were closing spring practices.

The Sporting News: 7th in Conference USA East. Nobody made TSN's preseason all-conference team, although they went with three wide receivers instead of two and a tight end.

USA Today: 1-11, 0-8 in Conference USA, so they must like FIU over the male half of Hart to Hart but under everybody else. 125th out of 128 nationally. Smith as the preseason all-conference tight end. They rank this year's recruiting class tied for eighth in C-USA, even with FAU.

It's hard for me to see FIU going winless in Conference USA or losing to Wagner. That's at least two wins right there. Bethune's predicted to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference again despite losing a kitchen table full of starters. Still, could be win No. 3. That would be progress.

 

June 24, 2014

On WR Mark Hutchinson

Wide receiver Mark Hutchinson, Class of 2015 out of Wesley Chapel Wiregrass Ranch High, announced Tuesday via Twitter that he's verbally committed to FIU. Last season, Hutchinson, 6-2, 200, caught seven passes for 113 yards.

He's unrated by 247sports.com, ESPN, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

 

June 22, 2014

3-star 2015 QB commits to FIU

Lakeland Christian's Christian Alexander completed 61.7 percent of his passes (127 of 206) in 2013 for 1,865 yards, 22 touchdowns and four interceptions. Alexander's 6-3, 210, the kind of size that speaks more of a pro-style quarterback FIU coach Ron Turner covets than the dual threat quarterbacks in vogue around college football.

So, count it as a plus for FIU that Alexander, rated at three stars by 247sports.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com, unrated by ESPN.com, announced his commitment to FIU Sunday via Twitter.

 

June 17, 2014

On QB Maurice Alexander

Did you do a double take that FIU got a quarterback commit out of Booker T. Washington, considering A) they barely took a look at national championship quarterback Treon Harris and B) the Booker T. and FIU staffs don't exactly hit the same Dunkin Donuts.

Maybe this will help explain: Maurice Alexander just transferred to Booker T. from Homstead High, where The Herald picked him Second Team 5A-Independent All-Dade. Last year, Alexander threw for 2,111 yards on 115 of 204 passing and ran for 90 yards on 63 carries (remember, sacks come off rushing totals in high school and college). He quarterbacked Booker T. to the championship of the Dolphins Academy 7-on-7 last weekend and will be leading them into the Nationals at Indianapolis.

Alexander's rated at two stars by 247sports.com, unrated by Rivals and Scout.com.

 

 

May 28, 2014

This 'n' That

Central defensive back Olin Cushion, a 2013 Second Team All-Dade selection as a junior, has committed to FIU for 2015. Cushion, 5-10, 175, had five interceptions for the state champion Rockets.

First college football preview mag out or, at least, the first one I saw: Lindy's. Lindy's ranked FIU 126th out of 128 FBS teams. In answer to the obvious question, The Terrible Two were New Mexico State and UMass. Then again, for the second consecutive year, Lindy's contained a blunder concerning FIU that whacks at its credibility. It missed FIU's 2011 bowl appearance under "Last Bowl."

If they're not already on the stands, Athlon's, Phil Steele, The Sporting News and USA Today should be out by the end of next week.

TRACK AND FIELD

Last week, FIU finally listed the head track abd cross country coach job on the NCAA's job search website. The department left the position vacant as a money-saving measure after Eric Campbell resigned in January.

 

 

February 05, 2014

People Gained & Lost on Signing Day

Busy day in FIU athletics: National Signing Day, Cindy Russo winning career game No. 700 tonight at Texas-San Antonio and David Beckham says he wants his MLS Miami franchise to play in a new stadium close to downtown (which means not FIU Stadium).

Taking the last part first, as they used to say on Twenty-One, FIU Stadium's main unsuitability is location. Everything else can be addressed. Offices can be built. A better field can be installed and maintained. The press box can be made into something that doesn't get laughed at by people from Troy or Arkansas State. It's even got the size MLS likes for its stadiums.

But it's still out there, far west enough to kiss the turnpike. That's too many minutes of honking, creative cursing, teeth-gnashing traffic for too many people for weeknight games. It's a factor that puts a ceiling on FIU basketball attendance. If you're in a position where your Get West routes are the Dolphin Expressway, State Road 112, east-west streets from Bird Road toi 36th Street or some combination of those three, you better love that sport like it's your mama to deal with that mess.

Interim site? Maybe. Permanent site? Nah.

Once again, there's another Signing Day coaching staff change as soon as FIU gets its class signed. Last year, it was defensive backs coach Jeff Popovich getting zapped. This time, it's defensive line coach Andre Patterson, apparently, headed for Minnesota and new coach Mike Zimmer's staff. Patterson and Zimmer worked together for three seasons in Dallas when Patterson was the defensive line coach and Zimmer was the defensive coordinator. Herrald writer & editor-retired-into-stringer Bill Van Smith, standing in for me at the FIU Signing Day Party, learned it wasn't a done deal yet.

On to recruiting. There weren't many surprises on Signing Day for FIU. They brought in offensive lineman Kai Absheer from Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas after Trayvon Williams opted for Georgia Southern over FIU. I like the size of the linemen. I would've liked to have seen one or two more guys who can get you the cheap points. You know, don't fill a kickoff return lane and see you after the touchdown dance.

In the whole process, they did lose some guys they really wanted, which happens every year to every school. I still say FAU made a strong statement getting who they got, especially locally, after throwing a staff together late as FIU did last year. Maybe it'll keep the Fieldhouse men jumping.

For what it's worth...Rivals.com ranks FIU tied for fourth in Conference USA with Louisiana Tech, Tulsa and Middle Tenessee State and tied for 83rd nationally. 247Sports.com, which ranks based on average rating of a player, ranks FIU 10th in Conference USA and 105th nationally. Scout.com has FIU 95th nationally and sixth in the conference, but that site also gives FIU credit for three-star Raheem Harvey (going to junior college) and running back Donavan Williams (decided to go closer to home, Sam Houston State).

The Recruiting Class of 2014 (with one scholarship left):

Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas offensive tackle Kai Absheer 6-5, 310. Not rated by ESPN.com, 247Sports.com, Rivals.com when the day started. Rivals had a two-star rating on him by day's end, as did Scout.com. I didn't see him play, but a 6-5 offensive tackle out of St. Thomas? That's a chance you have to take. If he doesn't have the feet, put him in dance class until he gets them. 

Plant City defensive end John Broome, 6-2, 225

Pembroke Pines Flanagan defensive back Mark Bruno, 5-10, 165

Hollywood Hills defensive lineman Josh Deuyour, 6-9, 305. Somebody's going on the field goal block team.

Jacksonville Raines running back Alex Gardner, 5-10, 185. Losing Williams hurts, but let's see what Gardner and sophomore Silas Spearman can do with an improved offensive line.

Hialeah defensive back Nick Gonzalez, 6-0, 180.

Frostproof wide receiver Jarviel Hart, 5-10, 160. 

Booker T. Washington offensive lineman Jordan Ingraham, 6-2, 315

Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County defensive end Anthony Johnson, 6-3, 235

Carol City defensive back Tyree Johnson, 5-8, 165

Oviedo Hagerty offensive lineman Breht Joly, 6-4, 305.

Tampa Sickles tight end/wide receiver Chett LeVay 6-3, 190.

Fort Lauderdale Dilllard quarterback Bud Martin, 6-3, 225. 

St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut Academy running back/wide receiver Napoleon Maxwell, 6-0, 190.

Tampa Gaither quarterback Alex McGeough, 6-3, 200. 

Neptune Beach Fletcher quarterback/punter Luke Medlock, 6-2, 200. Adds to the quarterback battle and I'll wager he's the best punter on the roster already. 

Orlando The First Academy offensive lineman Chris Miller, 6-4, 310

Delray Beach Atlantic wide receiver/defensive back Thomas Owens, 6-1, 180. Owens played quarterback at Atlantic. 

Tampa Bay Tech linebacker Fred Russ, 5-10, 235

Plantation American Heritage defensive tackle Justin Sibole, 6-4, 275. This one wasn't certain until today. Rated at three stars by ESPN, two stars by 247sports.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Miami Springs cornerback Bobby Stinson, 5-11, 155

Hialeah Jermaine Sheriff. FIU says defensive back, but he played defensive end and linebacker in high school. 6-2, 225. I don't see him getting any smaller, so he'll be either an outside linebacker or an intimidatingly physical safety.

Northwestern defensive back Shemarke Spence, 5-9, 170.

Miami Springs cornerback Bobby Stinson, 5-11, 155, 175

Fort Lauderdale Dillard wide receiver Dennis Turner, 5-11, 180. FIU's highest rated recruit by 247Sports.com, ESPN.com and Scout.com, all of which have him at three stars. Rivals.com has him at two stars. A big play receiver who averaged over 20 yards per catch over his last two years of high school, catching passes from early enrollee Bud Martin.

Orlando Oak Ridge offensive tackle DaQuane Willkie, 6-4, 250. Considered one of the best offensive tackles in the middle of the state. He's only going to get bigger and longer. If he's got feet, he'll be impressive.

Homestead linebacker Anthony Wint, 6-0, 210. 

National Signing Day updates (look under Stevie)

I'm here in Los Angeles covering the Heat, the second time in three years I've been elsewhere on National Signing Day. Just as when I was at the Super Bowl during Signing Day two years ago, I'll provide updates on here on the blog as best I can and, at the end of the day, what analysis I can.

The classes that helped give this football program its brightest days didn't come very heralded. Meanwhile, there's not much left of the highest ranking class, 2012. FIU coach Ron Turner insisted during the fall they were getting their first choice recruits. Turner lost some of those young men. Down the line, that might be a big break for FIU considering the academic troubles of some of their highest ranked recruits over the years.

Anyway, I'll try to keep a running total here as best I can while doing the Heat-Clippers thing throughout the day. Updates under Stevie...

 

Signees having been announced by FIU, Tweeted their signing or messaged me:

Hialeah defensive back Nick Gonzalez, 6-0, 180. Gonzalez was unrated by any of the services until Rivals.com gave him a two-star rating after his FIU commit. He made some big plays as a wide receiver and if I remember that district correctly, that's not always easy with the speed on the defensive side of the ball.

Oviedo Hagerty offensive lineman Breht Joly, 6-4, 305.

Jacksonville Fletcher quarterback/punter Luke Medlock, 6-2, 200. Adds to the quarterback battle and I'll wager he's the best punter on the roster already. 

Hollywood Hills defensive lineman Josh Deuyour, 6-9, 305

Miami Springs cornerback Bobby Stinson, 5-11, 155

Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas offensive tackle Kai Absheer 6-5, 310

Jacksonville Raines running back Alex Gardner, 5-10, 185

Frostproof wide receiver Jarviel Hart, 5-10, 160

Pembroke Pines Flanagan defensive back Mark Bruno, 5-10, 165

Tampa Bay Tech linebacker Fred Russ, 5-10, 235

Plantation American Heritage defensive tackle Justin Sibole, 6-4, 275. This one wasn't certain until today. Rated at three stars by ESPN, two stars by 247sports.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

Northwestern defensive back Shemarke Spence, 5-9, 175

Tampa Sickles tight end/wide receiver Chett LeVay 6-3, 190

St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut Academy running back/wide receiver Napoleon Maxwell, 6-0, 190

Hialeah Jermaine Sheriff. FIU says defensive back, but he played defensive end and linebacker in high school. 6-2, 225. I don't see him getting any smaller, so that's either an outside linebacker or one lay-the-big-wood safety.

Plant City defensive end John Broome, 6-2, 225

Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County defensive end Anthony Johnson, 6-3, 235

Booker T. Washington offensive lineman Jordan Ingraham, 6-2, 315

Carol City defensive back Tyree Johnson, 5-8, 165

Homestead linebacker Anthony Wint, 6-0, 210

Orlando The First Academy offensive lineman Chris Miller, 6-4, 310

Delray Beach Atlantic wide receiver Thomas Owens, 6-1, 180

Orlando Oak Ridge offensive tackle DaQuane Willkie, 6-4, 250. One of the best offensive tackles in the middle of the state. He's only going to get bigger and longer. If he's got feet, he'll be impressive.

Fort Lauderdale Dillard wide receiver Dennis Turner, 5-11, 180. A big play receiver who averaged over 20 yards per catch over his last two years of high school, catching passes from early enrollee Bud Martin.

 

February 01, 2014

3-star RB chooses FIU

Jacksonville Raines running back Alex Gardner declared via Twitter earlier today that he's committed to FIU.

For what ratings are worth, Gardner would be the highest rated running back recruited to FIU out of high school. ESPN.com and 247sports.com have him at three stars while Scout.com and Rivals.com have him at two. 

January 27, 2014

Making A Move on Gardner; Coley again No. 1 scorer

The FIU coaching staffs Turners were up state Monday, trying to woo three-star running back Alex Gardner, a 5-10, 185-pound runner out of Jacksonville Raines, to FIU. Gardner was to visit FAU this weekend. Now, he'll visit FIU.

Gardner visited Wyoming last week. According to MaxPreps, he ran for 1,955 yards and 18 touchdowns his junior and senior years on 314 carries, 6.23 a pop. As far as catching the ball, his 29 receptions led to 359 yards and five touchdowns in that same two-year span.

 

 

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Senior guard Jerica Coley bumped past Baylor's Odyssey Sims in the national scoring race to retake the lead in the category she won last year.

Coley's 38-point effort Saturday against Alabama-Birmingham put her at 30.0 points per game. Meanwhile, Sims suffered a seven for 27 shooting night against Oklahoma State, scoring only 17 points and dropping her to 29.7. That was Sims third game in the last four of 20 or fewer points. Baylor won two of those three games, one of which saw Sims play only 28 minutes as Baylor routed Kansas State.

Seabury recommits?

As noted in the Comments section of the last post, I missed Saturday's Tweet from Orlando Timber Creek wide receiver Javonte Seabury that he's headed for FIU again.

Seabury decommitted after his official visit was cancelled just before it was supposed to happen. He told the Orlando Sentinel he did so because FIU stopped paying him enough attention. I heard FIU cut the visit in a concern about Seabury's academic standing.

If Seabury winds up coming to FIU, that puts more bullets in the big play gun FIU wants to fire more often than they did last year.

January 26, 2014

A LB from Homestead, a DB from Hialeah

 

After a morning and noon in the kitchen -- fluffy pancakes, then Cake Pops, then brunch -- a few more details on what I Tweeted out this morning. (You don't follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DavidJNeal? Your bad).

And, yes, this is what I meant by standing your ground.

Homestead linebacker Anthony Wint had one interception, one fumble forced and one fumble recovered as a senior. He also had a widely reported offer from Syracuse at one time. Not sure that was still on the table. Wint's rated at two stars by 247sports.com and Scout.com, three stars by ESPN.com and unrated by Rivals.com.

Hialeah safety Nick Gonzalez picked off two passes his senior season, three in his last two years. Though Gonzalez didn't catch many passes as a wide receiver (seven), they tended to be big ones -- a 52-yarder against Miami Springs, two for 43 yards and two touchdowns against Hialeah Miami Lakes, a 37-yard touchdown against North Miami Beach.

Gonzalez isn't rated by 247sports.com, Rivals.com, Scout.com or ESPN.com.

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2396506/highlights/52782375

 

 

Two up (basketballs), one down (pool)

Saturday night at The Branch, I wonder if anybody had a Joe Montana-John Candy moment. You know, looking off the court and seeing, "Hey, that's Ray Taylor over there!" or "Hey, check it out -- people actually in the cabanas!"

That contribution to a solid gathering helped give The Branch good life throughout FIU's 66-57 win. The court and the cabanas, as such things go, now just seem normal, although I still like the uniqueness of each. The only thing two things beach-like about Saturday night's game, in fact: the Spotlight Dance Academy preteens creepily twerking like they worked at Club Madonna (accompanied by little girls creepily made up like they worked for Iceberg Slim) at halftime and the way officials treated fifth-year senior forward Rakeem Buckles. The zebras imitated Miami Beach PD who wanted Buckles to move along during Urban Beach Weekend. To be fair, officiating helped neither team, but of Buckles' five fouls, I saw him commit two, maybe three.

FIU didn't give FAU's Pablo Bertone a chance to see much of anything in the first half. Bertone wound up with 19 points, right at his 18.1 per game average, but all of it came in the second half as FAU tried to come from 34-24 down at the half. The Give A Hoot, Don't Pollute guys never made it. In fact, after Tymell Murphy knocked down the game's first jumper less than 20 seconds into the contest, FIU never trailed or was tied.

Anyway, back to the defensive job on Bertone. 

“I thought they paid extra attention to him,” FIU coach Anthony Evans said. “There wasn’t a time when he caught the ball that someone wasn’t on him. We let No. 12 get a couple of clean looks early. But I don’t think Bertone got any clean looks whether Dennis (Mavin) was on him or Tymell.”

Evans usually doesn't crack anything close to a joke in the postgame conference, win or lose. Saturday, after Murphy finished answering a question about his double doubles, Evans said, "He almost had a triple double..."

"Eight turnovers...," Murphy groaned.

"If he had two more turnovers, it's a triple double," Evans said.

"I was just looking at that," Murphy said. "That's horrible. I've got to be better." 

When FIU needed offense, it was Murphy coming up with the tough move or rebound, Mavin using his quickness to break down the defense or sophomore forward Jerome Frink unafraid to take the shot. Defensively, Mavin and Murphy helped out down low well and Frink, again, always seeming to be there for a steal, block or rebound. 

As Murphy left the postgame press conference, I said to him, "You hear your girl got 38?"

Murphy threw out more complimentary words about senior guard Jerica Coley, of whom Murphy's the biggest on-campus fan. UAB couldn't keep Coley from the hole and they couldn't keep Tynia McKinzie off hte boards.

Coley got her 38 strangely -- hitting five of nine from three-point range, but only seven of 26 from inside the arc. Still, you know what Coley's going to give as far as points almost every night. The difference in FIU winning or losing Saturday, as so often, is the supporting cast's production. McKinzie put in 10 points to go with her 19 rebounds.

And that's the difference between the 63-52 win and team failure.

SWIMMING & DIVING

Having a dysfunctional facility clearly didn"t affect Florida Gulf Coast's ability.

Pool problems caused the diving for Saturday's dual meet to be hosted by FIU while Gulf Coast hosted the swimming. Senior Sabrina Beaupre swept both the diving events while senior Sonia Perez Arau won the 1000 freestyle in school record time (10:07.06, knocking 4.3 seconds off her own FIU record) and took the 500 free and 400 individual medley, too. FIU coach Randy Horner called it the best dua meet of any athlete h'es coached.

Unfortunately for FIU, Gulf Coast won everything else and the meet, 189.5-109.5. The first dual meet loss of the year for FIU, No. 12 in CollegeSwimming.com's mid-major rankings (Gulf Coast was No. 9), comes a week before they face FAU in the season-ending dual meet.

 

January 22, 2014

Enoicy, Maxwell pledge FIU

 

Delray Beach Atlantic wide receiver Adly Enoicy is 6-5 and was pursued at one time by Florida and USC among other schools. Enoicy's scheduled to visit Syracuse Jan. 31, but he committed to FIU Wednesday. ESPN.com has him at four stars, Rivals.com puts him at two stars, 247sports.com and Scout.com each have him at three stars.

St. Pete Admiral Farragut's Napoleon Maxwell ran the ball only 80 times, but for 953 yards his senior year, 11.9 yards a carry, and returned three kicks for touchdowns and caught 18 passes for 273 yards. He also had four interceptions as a safety. Maxwell have his verbal nod to FIU Monday with his official visit still to come. 247sports.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com all rate him at two stars. ESPN.com rates him at three stars.

 

January 21, 2014

Seabury decommits; FIU offers Huggins; Spring Game April 12

Orlando Timber Creek Wide receiver Javonte Seabury, whom each recruiting site had as FIU's highest rated recruit, announced via Twitter that he's decommitted from FIU. Seabury flipped to FIU from Florida State late last summer. He had an official visit scheduled for this past weekend, but it was cancelled. 

Meanwhile, FIU threw an offer at Coconut Creek Monarch cornerback Ronnie Hoggins, Class of 2015, rated at three stars by Rivals.com and 247sports.com.

SPRING GAME

Look at the headline. That's all we know for now.

January 20, 2014

Turner gets Turner

To answer the question asked on Twitter, yes, this is what I mean by standing your ground. Also, making use of local contacts.

The Herald's Manny Navarro reported that Fort Lauderdale Dillard coach Lorenzo Davis told him that Dillard wide receiver Dennis Turner, who decommitted from the University of Miami in December, committed Sunday to FIU. Already at FIU -- Turner's high school quarterback Bud Martin.

Turner, 5-11, 175, is rated at three stars by ESPN.com, 247sports.com and Scout.com and two stars by Rivals.com. 


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