NCAA Football

Junior College National Signing Day 2014: Top Recruit Commitments and Reaction

It doesn't command the same attention as its high school counterpart, but the path to a national championship for every college football team starts with junior college national signing day. Wednesday was the first day when all of the country's top JUCO players decided on their future.     

Every year, there are valuable contributors on top college programs who came from junior college programs. There are times when they go on to become high draft picks in the NFL, with Cam Newton being the most notable recent example.     

As coaching staffs have set the stage for 2015, here is a look at the top recruiting commitments from the junior college national signing say and reaction to some of the biggest moves. 

Full list of JUCO prospects, measurables and commitments can be found via 247Sports.

 

Top Stories

Jovon Robinson, RB (Committed to Auburn)

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Robinson is the highest-graded 4-star prospect in this year's class. Auburn was fortunate enough to land his commitment.

He was a part of the Tigers' 2012 recruiting class under former head coach Gene Chizik but was ruled ineligible to play due to an issue with his grades being changed out of high school, per Charles Goldberg of AL.com.

Over two years later, Robinson is back at Auburn and ready to lead the potent rushing attack that has averaged at least 258.5 yards per game in two years under Gus Malzahn. 

Robinson has already made his presence felt in practice, scoring a touchdown, per Brandon Marcello of AL.com:

The nation's top junior college prospect scored a touchdown in a scrimmage on his first day of practice with the Tigers Monday, though he "got robbed" initially, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said. A graduate assistant on the defensive staff said the 5-foot-11, 225-pound Robinson stepped out of bounds at the 2-yard line.

Marcello also noted that Robinson "should" compete right away for the starting job next year following the graduation of Cameron Artis-Payne, who ran for 1,482 yards and 11 touchdowns. Running backs coach Tim Horton says in Marcello's piece that the team wants to work him into the mix "slowly."

Malzahn echoed those sentiments at a press conference on Monday as the Tigers prepare for a matchup with Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl, saying, "(Robinson) just got here and just trying to get him slowly acclimated and everything that goes with it," via James Crepea of the Montgomery Advertiser

Given the way Malzahn's offense works, Auburn can never have too many running backs. The good news is they appear to be loading up on talent at the position, headlined by the return of Robinson. 

 

Marquavius Lewis, DE (Committed to South Carolina)

Steve Spurrier's South Carolina team entered 2014 perceived as a national title contender. The Gamecocks were ranked ninth in The Associated Press Preseason Top 25 poll but fell on hard times due to a defense that allowed 31.2 points per game. 

Marquavius Lewis, the No. 3 JUCO recruit and top-rated strong-side defensive end by 247Sports' composite system, should be able to help Spurrier fix the defense quickly. The South Carolina native is staying close to home so he can play for the Gamecocks, though not without some drama. 

Auburn was making a late push, but Wes Mitchell of GamecocksCentral.com reported Lewis was going to honor his initial commitment to South Carolina:

The 6-foot-4, 271-pound prospect, who is originally from Greenwood HS, has been committed to South Carolina since July, but the Gamecocks had to withstand a late push from Auburn, where he took an official visit in November.

Asked if he had made a final decision between South Carolina and Auburn, Lewis responded: "Yes. I'll be signing with USC today."

Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports reported on Twitter that new Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp did have a chance to speak with Lewis in an effort to get him to flip:

Mitchell offered this tweet about which way Lewis was leaning from the sight of the star defensive end's signing ceremony:

Mitchell also noted that Lewis was a JUCO All-American in 2014 after posting 63 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. 

Lewis certainly looks the part of an impact edge-rusher at 6'4" and 271 pounds, which is exactly what Spurrier's defense needs. The Gamecocks finished tied for 121st in the nation with one sack per game last season, per TeamRankings.com

No one will confuse Mitchell with Jadeveon Clowney, but the Gamecocks found out the hard way how much they need a pass-rusher to succeed in the SEC. Lewis is a piece of the puzzle to bring South Carolina back to prominence in the conference. 

 

Mississippi Schools Have Big Day

One of the keys to success for any school, especially those in football hotbeds like the south or California, is keeping the best recruits in their home state.

No state illustrated that better on Wednesday than Mississippi, which had four of the top 10 JUCO prospects (D.J. Jones, Tony Bridges, Donald Gray, Martinas Rankin) in 247Sports' composite rankings commit to Mississippi or Mississippi State. 

The Rebels and Bulldogs should be major players in the 2015 recruiting season based on their success in 2014. Ole Miss has seen a gradual progression in three years under Hugh Freeze, winning seven games in his first season, eight in 2013 and nine in 2014 (not including the bowl game). 

Jones was a pleasant surprise for Freeze's recruiting class, as he flipped his commitment from Florida State, per David Johnson of 247Sports:

Bridges gives the Rebels more depth at cornerback, but he also serves another purpose that was pointed out by Austin Miller of the Ole Miss Sports Blog:

B/R National Football Recruiting analyst Tyler Donohue noted that Bridges and Jones helped the team land the top-ranked players at three different positions:

Quarterback Chad Kelly is a significant get for Freeze because Bo Wallace's Mississippi career is over after the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31. 

Mississippi State had been consistently winning seven or eight games under Dan Mullen the last few years, but few would have predicted the Bulldogs would go 10-2 in 2014 and spend five weeks atop the AP Top 25 rankings. 

Gray, the top-ranked wide receiver from Copiah-Lincoln, had an official visit with Mississippi State over the weekend and talked about the experience with Robbie Faulk of 247Sports:

The music playing got the players going throughout practice and that was really fun to watch. I didn’t really see much from the receivers because I got there late Friday and didn’t see Jameon (Lewis) Saturday. Since they want to use me like they used him, I wanted to see him in action.

The biggest thing I got to do with the coaches was just trying to get mentally acclimated with everything. They want effort on and off the field. They mentioned they want to use me in punt return and in the slot, but they want mostly effort.

Jameon Lewis finished the regular season third on the team with 27 receptions and fifth with 317 receiving yards, so Gray will have big shoes to fill next year. The good news is he will have some help, assuming quarterback Dak Prescott returns for his senior season. 

Speaking of Prescott, he's going to get some help as well. Martinas Rankin is a 6'5", 300-pound offensive lineman who could be in the mix for a starting job next season, per Courtney Cronin of The Clarion-Ledger:

The SEC has power all over the country, but it's the ability to keep its own players that makes it the preeminent conference in college football.

That was only confirmed on Wednesday, as eight of the top 10 and 16 of the top 36 JUCO prospects signed with schools in the SEC so far.     

 

If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 

 

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Alabama's Permanent Captains Perfectly Define 2014 Season

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Before the A-Day spring game—some time in late April 2015—four Alabama players will return to campus to literally leave their mark on campus.

Blake Sims, Landon Collins, Amari Cooper and Jalston Fowler were named permanent captains for the 2014 Alabama football team by a player vote and will get a hand and footprint made in cement in front of Denny Chimes—as is tradition for each year's permanent captains.

No matter what happens in the College Football Playoff, those four will be remembered as the leaders of this year’s team that already has defied so many expectations.

In a way, the quartet is a perfect representation of this year’s team and everything it's been through.

Collins and Cooper are two uber-talented, consensus All-Americans—and two three-and-outs about to get a big payday at the next level. While Sims and Fowler are two fifth-year seniors, they are fan favorites who stuck it out and are beloved by their teammates.

It’s the perfect mix of players for a team that has the perfect mix of personalities to make this playoff run possible.

“All four of those guys have had great careers at Alabama,” junior center Ryan Kelly, a candidate for the honor next season, said. “Those guys are always there when we needed them the most. They’re guys that we can count on. I don’t think there’s any greater award than to be a team captain. I’m proud of those guys.”

Captaincy honors are generally reserved for seniors or players who have graduated, so Cooper and Collins are interesting choices in that regard. Still, it’s hard to pretend like either will opt to play for free for another season when their talents will be in such high demand in the NFL next year.

Bleacher Report’s draft expert, Matt Miller, has Cooper and Collins as top-10 picks in his latest mock draft, the only Alabama players in the first-round mock.

Even Cooper himself said, “I have two more years here” during 2013's spring practice when answering a question about complacency after a big freshman year.

But Cooper and Collins are both the stars of the show on both sides of the ball—incredibly gifted playmakers who came through in the clutch.

Collins’ interception against Arkansas is widely considered the play of the year among the team, the play that sparked Alabama’s run through the last half of the season.

Cooper made too many plays to count, winning the Biletnikoff Award and earning himself a trip to New York as a Heisman finalist.

Beyond the talent, head coach Nick Saban has reiterated that this has been his favorite team to coach because of the players.

Here's what he said one week on his radio show (h/t Andrew Gribble of AL.com):

There's a lot of really good players on our team that are really good people and good guys. And this team, regardless of whether we win another game, this is a really fun team to coach because we don't have a lot of energy vampires on this team. I've talked about that before, you spend all your time and energy because you've got four or five guys that won't ever do things the right way. You're always spending your time trying to get them to do it right. The other 95 guys that are doing right, you don't have any time to spend with them over the four or five. We don't really have players like that on our team this year.

It’s easy to see why with players like Sims and Fowler.

Sims’ story is well-known at this point: a career backup who almost didn’t get his chance when Jake Coker transferred in, but ended up winning the job and leading Alabama on this run.

For his efforts, he was named Most Inspiring Player by his teammates. His attitude sets a standard and gives other players something to look up to.

“I think that’s one of the things that carries Blake so far on and off the field is just the presence he has, the positive mindset he brings everyday,” Kelly said. “I think when you’re around people like that it brings you up as a person as well.”

And you won’t find a more likeable guy on the team than Fowler, who overcame a knee injury in 2012 and has become a versatile weapon in Kiffin’s offense as a lead blocker, ball-carrier and receiver.

“Talk about a guy who couldn’t be more positive, just like Blake,” Kelly said of Fowler. “A lot of us come from different backgrounds, and I think what makes him so special is he’s always so open to anyone who comes in. Just a great guy to be around and I call him my dear friend. That vote was, again, voted on by players. I couldn’t be happier for Jalston.”

The four of them have been major contributors to an Alabama football team that still has plenty of goals ahead of it left to accomplish.

They perfectly represent what has made this iteration of Crimson Tide football so successful on the field and likeable off it.

 

Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.

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Will Georgia Land Top 5 Recruiting Class in 2015 Without QB Commit?

The Georgia Bulldogs have a loaded 2015 recruiting class, scooping up some of the very best talent in the land. But, they have not targeted a quarterback. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee discuss the incoming class of Bulldogs and what their impact will be in Athens.

Does Georgia's lack of QB commits hinder their 2015 class?

Check out the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Which 2015 Recruits Are Future 1st-Round Picks?

The 2015 recruiting class is full of studs—impact players with high ceilings and grand aspirations. But are there any future first-round NFL draft picks in the bunch?

Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Michael Felder and Barrett Sallee reveal which 2015 recruit will be cashing major checks as a first-round draft pick in the near future. 

Who will be a sure fire first-rounder from the 2015 class? Check out the video and let us know! 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oregon Players Who Must Step Up with Ifo Ekpre-Olomu Injured

The Oregon Ducks have had terrible luck with injuries this season. However, no injury may be more crippling going forward than the one apparently suffered by senior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. 

Ekpre-Olomu, a Jim Thorpe Award finalist and AP first-team All-American, reportedly suffered a serious knee injury during Tuesday’s practice. The concern is that Ekpre-Olomu may have torn his ACL, which would end his year. The news was first reported by Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports.

If this report is found to be true, it is obviously a devastating blow to the Ducks and may end up affecting Oregon’s national championship aspirations.

The Ducks are only 15 days away from facing the Florida State Seminoles in the Rose Bowl. If Ekpre-Olomu is unable to go, as this report suggests, the Ducks backups will need to step up in a big way.

The loss for Oregon could be enormous, but the Ducks live by the motto “next man up.” Here’s who must step up for the Ducks to have a legitimate shot at knocking off Florida State and reaching the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

 

Chris Seisay 

If you don’t know who Chris Seisay is, you’re going to hear a lot about him over the next two weeks.

Seisay, a 6’1” redshirt freshman from California, was thrust into action as Oregon’s third cornerback this season due to the struggles of senior cornerback Dior Mathis.

Seisay will now likely start as Oregon’s No. 2 cornerback against Florida State, a position he found himself in against Utah when Ekpre-Olomu left that 51-27 victory with a toe injury.

At the time, Ekpre-Olomu told Seisay to play with the confidence of a starter. "I just tell him when you're out there you have to play with confidence because you never know what could happen," Ekpre-Olomu said, according to Andrew Greif of The Oregonian. "He's a play away from being a starter and he knew that coming into the game."

Unfortunately for the Ducks, Ekpre-Olomu’s words now look prophetic.

In a limited role this season, Seisay has registered 20 tackles, three pass breakups, three passes defended and has forced a fumble.

Against Florida State, Seisay will be tasked with guarding a combination of freshman Travis Rudolph and sophomore Jesus Wilson. On the season, Rudolph has caught 32 passes for 459 yards and three touchdowns, while Wilson has 37 receptions for 455 yards and four touchdowns.

Seisay has performed well in a limited role. He’ll need to contain Wilson and Rudolph in an expanded role against the undefeated Seminoles.

As for the unenviable task of guarding Florida State’s top receiver, Rashad Greene, that job will now be given to redshirt senior cornerback Troy Hill.

 

Troy Hill

Hill, a 5’11” cornerback from Ohio, has been playing the best football of his career over the last month of the season. However, he will now be faced with his stiffest test in the most important game of his career.

Greene, FSU’s top receiver, has caught 93 passes for 1,306 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Greene ranks No. 8 nationally in receptions and No. 7 in receiving yards.

Hill was named to the Pac-12’s second-team defense and led the Pac-12 in pass breakups (16) and passes defended (17). Hill also ranked No. 3 in the nation in pass breakups and No. 7 in passes defended.

On the season, Hill has accounted for 57 tackles, three tackles for loss, an interception and a forced fumble.

When asked by Tyler Robinson of FishDuck.com about the challenge of playing Florida State, Hill responded, “You just got to know that you’re coming into a dogfight. If you get up, you know that you can’t let go. They’re going to fight the whole game, and you can’t really expect them to ever be out of it.”

Hill is going to have to play the best game of his career against Greene in the Rose Bowl. There’s little doubt that 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston is going to target Greene early and often, especially now that Ekpre-Olomu isn’t there to scare Winston away.

If Hill is able to play at the level he has for most of the season, the Ducks should still be able to match up with Florida State’s receiving core.

 

Erick Dargan

While senior safety Erick Dargan is not a cornerback nor will he attempt to be one in the Rose Bowl, he has been Oregon’s best defender for most of the season and will be called upon to once again take charge of the Ducks secondary.

Not only is Dargan Oregon’s leading tackler this season with 82, but he also leads the team in interceptions with six—ranked No. 7 in the country and first in the Pac-12. Dargan, who was also named to the Pac-12’s second-team defense, has also registered five pass breakups and 11 passes defended this year.

Florida State’s passing game is ranked No. 14 in the country and is averaging just under 300 yards per game through the air. The Seminoles have two big playmakers in Greene and tight end Nick O’Leary, who has caught 47 passes for 614 yards and six touchdowns in 2014.

Dargan’s most important assignment against Florida State will not be focused on an individual, but rather it will be making sure his leadership is felt throughout the secondary.

Dargan is now the defense’s emotional leader, a role that he has shared with Ekpre-Olomu for most of the season. Now, with the senior cornerback likely out for the season, those duties fall exclusively on Dargan's shoulders.

This news is a huge blow for the Ducks. There’s no way to replace an All-American cornerback just two weeks before the Rose Bowl. While Ekpre-Olomu may not have had his finest season this year, he was still Oregon’s most reliable cornerback and was going to be tasked with covering Florida State’s top wide receiver.

Now, the Ducks must depend on Chris Seisay, Troy Hill and Erick Dargan to fill the void.

Oregon can still beat Florida State in the Rose Bowl. The Ducks offense is still as potent as ever, and as long as Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota is leading the charge the Ducks have a shot.

Still, the road to the national championship just got a lot tougher for the Pac-12 champions.

 

Statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com unless otherwise stated. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise stated.

Jason Gold is Bleacher Report’s lead Oregon writer. Follow Jason on Twitter @TheSportsGuy33.

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Oregon Players Who Must Step Up with Ifo Ekpre-Olomu Injured

The Oregon Ducks have had terrible luck with injuries this season. However, no injury may be more crippling going forward than the one apparently suffered by senior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Bo Pelini Takes Multiple Shots at Nebraska, Insults Athletic Director

Bo Pelini was introduced Wednesday as the new head coach at Youngstown State, where he was hired by former Ohio State head coach and current YSU president Jim Tressel.

In his first public appearance since being fired as head coach at Nebraska, Pelini wasted no time taking a shot at his former chancellor, Harvey Perlman, per Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com:

But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Pelini's public comments might as well have been "I love you" compared with what he said behind closed doors. 

When Pelini left Nebraska, he called a players-only meeting to say goodbye to his team. Pictures from the meet-up surfaced quickly, but we didn't know until Wednesday what he said to his players.

On Wednesday, however, Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World-Herald acquired an audio recording of Pelini's final speech. There was a lot—I mean, a lot—of NSFW language, which has been censored below.

Here is what Pelini said about athletic director Shawn Eichorst:

A guy like (Eichorst) who has no integrity, he doesn’t even understand what a core value is. And he hasn’t understood it from the day he got here. I saw it when I first met with the guy.

To have core values means you have to be about something, you have to represent something, you have to have something that is important to you. He is a [expletive] lawyer who makes policies. That’s all he’s done since he’s been here is hire people and make policies to cover his own [expletive].

…I didn't really have any relationship with the A.D.. The guy, you guys saw him (Sunday), the guy is a total [expletive]. I mean, he is, and he's a total [expletive].

But Pelini did not stop there.

According to Chatelain, he says he saw anger in administrators' faces after Nebraska beat Iowa in the regular season-finale. They didn't want the Huskers to win—the implication being that they knew Pelini was a goner and would have preferred to fire him after a loss.

This is how Pelini described his final exchange with Eichorst:

He goes, I disagree that I haven't supported you. I said, 'Hey bud, you can't support someone under a [expletive] rock.' I said, to do your job at this level, in a place like this, you gotta be a grown-[expletive] [expletive] man...to lead something. I said you can't lead anything under a [expletive] rock. I said you don't spend any time with us. Our players don't even know who you are. That isn't leadership.

And he said, 'Well I appreciate (your) advice.'

I said, 'I suggest you take it, but see you later.' And that's how it went down.

There's a lot more if you're inclined to keep reading. My personal favorite quote concerns Eichorst's "team of people," to which Pelini says: "I’d rather [expletive] work at McDonald’s than work with some of those guys.

"Not that there is anything bad about working at McDonald’s."

Pelini was fired in November after seven seasons with the Huskers, all of which were more or less the same.

An optimist would argue that he never won fewer than nine games. A pessimist would counter that he never lost fewer than four.

Regardless, the move was met with mixed reviews, especially once Nebraska hired former Oregon State head coach Mike Riley. Riley won nine or more games just four times in the past 11 seasons.

Pelini is a divisive figure who at one point dared Nebraska to fire him. His playful, charming, cat-loving persona is contrasted with his sometimes-hot temper. He is not afraid to say what's on his mind, which in many cases makes him more endearing.

But it also sometimes lands him in trouble.

One has to wonder, then, if Thursday will play a role in Pelini's coaching future. Nothing he said at the presser is factually untrue—Tressel won a national title with OSU and almost certainly knows more about football than Perlman—but he still probably shouldn't have said it. And he definitely shouldn't have said that stuff to his players. 

Youngstown State is a not a destination coaching job, even for a Youngstown, Ohio native such as Pelini. One has to assume he plans on coaching at the FBS level again in the future.

The question is whether any FBS president will ever want to hire him. At this point, his chances look bleak. What school would hire a guy with a reputation for bashing administrators (and a nasty little habit of being recorded)? Why would they risk ending up on the wrong side of one of his diatribes? 

The only cure at this point might be winning.

Winning has a way of curing everything.

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeigh35

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Rasul Douglas to West Virginia: Mountaineers Land 4-Star JUCO CB Prospect

After a successful tenure at Nassau Community College, JUCO cornerback prospect Rasul Douglas signed with West Virginia on Wednesday afternoon. Douglas was recruited by several other Division I teams like Florida State, Louisville and Rutgers before committing to the Mountaineers.     

Douglas made the news official on Twitter:

A 4-star player, according to 247Sports' composite rankings, Douglas is rated as the No. 4 cornerback among JUCO recruits in the Class of 2015. Louisville was the perceived favorite to land Douglas, per the 247Sports Crystal Ball, which gave the program a 60 percent chance at signing him.

Nick Burch of ESPN680 offered his take on the situation:

Prior to making his decision, Douglas told Brian Dohn of Scout.com of West Virginia, "They have big needs for me. They have been recruiting me the longest and I know them the best."

Standing at 6'3", 200 pounds, Douglas offers the kind of size that defensive coordinators covet at the position. He's a big player who will match up well with more physical receivers.    

The Mountaineers went 7-5 this season and will play Texas A&M in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 29. But after finishing 61st in the country in points allowed (26.2 per game), Douglas can help the Mountaineers secondary next season.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Loss of Ifo Ekpre-Olomu Not a 'Death Sentence' for Oregon's Championship Chances

According to Yahoo Sports' Rand Getlin, Oregon star defensive back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu left practice on Tuesday with what appeared to be a knee injury.

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder discusses what this means for the Oregon Ducks' bowl game against Florida State on January 1.

Can the Ducks recover from this loss?

Watch the video and let us know!

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Loss of Ifo Ekpre-Olomu Not a 'Death Sentence' for Oregon's Championship Chances

According to Yahoo Sports' Rand Getlin , Oregon star defensive back Ifo Ekpre -Olomu left practice on Tuesday with what appeared to be a knee injury...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

College Football Recruiting 2015: 5 Classes Coming on Strong to Finish the Year

National signing day is rapidly approaching, and a handful of schools around the country are preparing for a huge close to the 2015 cycle.

Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide are once again sitting in the pole position atop the 247Sports Team Rankings.

However, with a number of top prospects still undecided, teams have a chance to make a move over the next few weeks. 

Which programs have classes that are coming on strong as signing day nears?

 

*Schools listed in alphabetical order.

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Gary Andersen's Son Found out Dad Was Leaving Wisconsin Job During Team Meeting

Even though he was the coach's son, Wisconsin linebacker Chasen Andersen was treated no differently than any other player while his father was in the process of changing jobs. And that was the way his father wanted it.

Last week, Gary Andersen left his job as Badgers head coach to become the new coach of the Oregon State Beavers. That seems like a decision a person would share with his or her entire family, but that wasn't the case here.

Chasen—a walk-on freshman—found out his dad was leaving Wisconsin for Oregon State at the same time the rest of the team did. Here's what Coach Andersen recently said during an appearance on The Jim Rome Show, (transcribed by Coaching Search):

It was hard for Chasen. I felt he needed to be educated in that process. He was on that team and part of that team, and I wanted Chasen to be educated in that process the way the rest of the team was.

He is a young man now. He is not a 13- or 14-year-old kid. He is not going to be living with us here and is out on his own. He was given an opportunity to hear it just like the rest of the team was. I think that took him a little bit by surprise, and I get that, but that is just what I thought was best as a dad and I thought that was best as a coach.

It's hard to argue with that reasoning. Chasen is an adult and may be better off seeing how this kind of stuff goes down in the real world. However, one could argue that a coach should inform his son—and player—about a move that impacts the entire family as soon as a decision is made. 

Should Coach Andersen have told his son that he was changing jobs before he told the rest of the team?

[h/t The Big Lead]

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Ifo Ekpre-Olomu Injury: Updates on Oregon Star's Knee and Return

Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu suffered a serious knee injury at practice on Tuesday, according to Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports:

Aaron Fentress of CSNNW reports that the injury will force him to miss the rest of the season. 

Viewed by most evaluators as a first-round pick, Ekpre-Olomu is in the midst of a strong senior campaign. He's continued to establish his reputation as one of the nation's best cornerbacks and currently sits No. 23 on Todd McShay's big board (ESPN Insider required).

The only major setbacks have come in the form of injuries, mostly to his left foot. Ekpre-Olomu missed nearly all of Oregon's 51-27 victory over Utah after going down with an injury to his big toe. 

"I'm not really too concerned, especially having an extra week off, but I think I'll be all right," Ekpre-Olomu told reporters then. "I've been dealing with a lot of different foot injuries on this same foot but I'm all right. I just tweaked my toe, my big toe."

Losing Ekpre-Olomu for an extended period would be a sizeable blow to Oregon's hopes within the College Football Playoff. The Ducks' biggest weakness all season has been their shaky defense. Ekpre-Olomu's absence strips Oregon of its best defensive player and makes Mark Helfrich's team far more vulnerable over the top.

With the injuries piling up, it'll also be interesting to see if NFL teams start scrutinizing him more heavily.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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Ifo Ekpre-Olomu Injury: Updates on Oregon Star's Knee and Return

Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu suffered a serious knee injury at practice on Tuesday, according to Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports: Aaron Fentress of CSNNW reports that the injury will force him to miss the rest of the season...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

SEC Extra Points with Barrett Sallee: Dan Mullen, Lateral Moves and Perspective

Much Ado About Nothing

The Internet exploded on Tuesday when Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen commented on Geoff Collins—his defensive coordinator—taking the same role on Jim McElwain's new staff at Florida.

"I hope our guys have opportunities to go be head coaches more than leaving for lateral positions," Mullen said, according to Michael Bonner of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. "I think (with) success, I hope we do have opportunities."

Is that a shot at Florida? A shot at Collins?

No. It's neither. In fact, it's not a big deal at all.

Collins' move to Florida is, by definition, a lateral move. Sure, program prestige and the power of Florida probably make it a slightly better job than Mississippi State. But what do you expect Mullen to say?

He and Collins just helped Mississippi State post its third 10-win season in program history, attained the No. 1 ranking in program history and earned an Orange Bowl berth for the first time since January of 1941. Meanwhile, Florida has been spinning its wheels for the last two seasons and was forced to make a coaching change.

Mullen should perceive this strictly as a lateral move for Collins, because Mullen has pride in what he has built in Starkville and recognize that, in the current landscape of college football, his Bulldogs are sitting pretty.

It won't always stay that way, and the chance to coach and recruit in Florida is certainly a draw for Collins—as it would be for most coaches. 

Collins is a rival now, though. He's an adversary. He's a coach who will battle Mullen on the recruiting trail for players who might be considering both programs. 

Good for Mullen for standing up for his program. He may not recognize the same definition of "lateral move" as the vast majority of college football players, coaches and fans, but he's not supposed to. 

It'd be a much bigger problem for Mullen and for Mississippi State had he conceded that his program was a stepping stone.

 

Bobo on the Go?

The coaching carousel may be spinning in northeast Georgia.

According to Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is interested in pursuing the head coaching job at Colorado State—which came open after Jim McElwain left the Rams for Florida earlier this month.

"Mike is taking advantage of the opportunity to go visit, and right this minute he's our offensive coordinator and we're planning on him being here at practices," head coach Mark Richt said in quotes emailed by Georgia. "We'll see where everything goes. Obviously if there's an opportunity for a staff member to do big things, you want to give him that opportunity."

If Bobo lands that job, it'd be a huge loss for the Bulldogs.

Richt handed over play-calling duties to Bobo prior to the 2007 season. The program has finished in the top four in the SEC in yards per play four times in the last five seasons and led the conference twice—2012 (7.09 YPP) and 2014 (6.82 YPP).

It's a big deal for an offensive-minded head coach like Richt to swallow his pride and hand over the keys to the car to somebody else, but Bobo not only earned that trust but kept it in cruise control, as the Bulldogs consistently produced elite offenses.

Through it all, Bobo has become a lighting rod for criticism. The decision not to spike the ball late in the 2012 SEC Championship Game might have cost his team a national title, but it wasn't Bobo's fault that quarterback Aaron Murray's pass was tipped. He gets heat when he calls draws on 3rd-and-long deep in his own territory, even though that's a smart call and helps in the battle for field position. 

This year, the decision not to run with Todd Gurley late in the fourth quarter at South Carolina when his team was inside the 5-yard line was just the latest point of contention. But a naked boot to a dragging tight end is still a safe play call, plus the intentional grounding call that pushed the Bulldogs back and eventually led to a missed field goal should not have been called since the pass deflected off a South Carolina defender's thigh (44:15 mark).

If a new offensive coordinator comes in, he's going to have to earn Richt's trust and live up to the legacy that Bobo has built. 

That won't be an easy task.

 

Match Made in Heaven

In its first full season as a major bowl, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl landed one of the most compelling non-playoff matchups of the bowl season.

TCU—the nation's second-ranked scoring offense (46.8 points per game)—will square off against an Ole Miss defense that's tops nationally in scoring defense (13.8 points per game).

"To have the No. 2 scoring offense against the No. 1 scoring defense, and No. 6 (TCU) vs. No. 9 (Ole Miss) with the passionate fan bases that they have, all of that together is a recipe for a great bowl game," Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl president and CEO Gary Stokan told Bleacher Report.

But how did it get to this point?

Ole Miss beat Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to open the season, and a return trip to the Peach State to tie a bow on the season was viewed as a benefit for the College Football Playoff selection committee when it was making selections and slotting teams in the "New Year's Six" bowl games.

"We talked about it," College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock told B/R. "We have several considerations. We try to avoid rematches of regular season games and last year's bowl games. Geography is a factor, as well as the matchups. We did talk about Ole Miss playing here once before during the season, and determined that it wouldn't trump the other factors."

For the bowl itself—which rose to prominence as an ACC vs. SEC matchup that was played unopposed on New Year's Eve night—keeping some of its roots intact for this year's matchup, which will be played at 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 31, was important.

"Having an SEC team in Atlanta makes a lot of sense from a fanbase perspective," Stokan said. "To have the No. 9 team in the country that was ranked No. 3 at one time and, with a bounce here or there, could be playing in one of the semifinal games, is huge for the bowl."

It's huge for Ole Miss, too.

Head coach Hugh Freeze has put the program on the map, taking it to three straight bowl games after the program totaled just one SEC win in the two seasons prior to Freeze's arrival in 2012. It now gets to play in a major bowl in a recruiting territory that's important to the sustained success of the program against a team that narrowly missed the College Football Playoff.

That's not just a small step forward, it's a major leap.

 

Thunder and Lighting

Junior college national signing day was Wednesday, and the future of Tennessee's ground game looks incredibly bright.

We all saw true freshman Jalen Hurd explode onto the scene this year, rushing for 777 yards on 174 carries for three touchdowns on the ground. Hurd had three 100-yard games in his inaugural season in the SEC—all against SEC opponents (Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky), and the 6'3", 227-pounder proved that he can handle the punishment between the tackles and be a force in space.

A newcomer could take some pressure off of him next year, though.

Tennessee signed 4-star running back Alvin Kamara from Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College on Wednesday. You may remember Kamara as part of the small village of running backs that made its way to Alabama in the class of 2013. 

He left the program in January and promptly rushed for 1,253 yards and 18 touchdowns for Hutchinson in 2014. At 5'10", 210, he's more dangerous in space but can take the punishment as well.

Hurd and Kamara are both complete all-purpose backs who excel in different areas, which will allow offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian and head coach Butch Jones to get creative with how they call games.

Tennessee already loaded up with superstars at the offensive skill positions, and Kamara is just the latest to join. Now only if the Vols can figure out that pesky offensive line problem.

 

Quick Outs

  • Junior college transfer running back Jovon Robinson scored a touchdown in his first practice with Auburn, according to Brandon Marcello of AL.com. It won't be his last. The No. 1 junior college prospect in the class of 2015 is a 225-pound monster who should be able to slide in and be a star in head coach Gus Malzahn's offense.
  • Texas A&M got a commitment on Wednesday from 5-star wide receiver Christian Kirk. Before everybody freaks out and asks if he can play defense, just stop. Kirk has all the makings of a superstar, and any program would be lucky to have him. But yes, Texas A&M still needs to fix its defense. 
  • LSU redshirt sophomore receiver Travin Dural said this week that he will return to the program instead of declaring for the NFL draft, according to Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com. That's the right move for Dural. He caught 37 passes for 758 yards and seven touchdowns this season in an offense that struggled to find any consistency in the passing game. Another season—and some help from his quarterbacks and offensive coordinator—could make him a high draft pick after his junior campaign.
  • For four hours on Christmas morning, the SEC Network will air video of a fireplace accompanied by a mix of holiday music and fight songs. That sounds like a wonderful idea now, but LSU fans might lose their minds when "Yea Alabama" comes on immediately following "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer."

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Where Auburn and Arizona State Turn After Missing on 5-Star Christian Kirk

Christian Kirk kept everyone guessing throughout his recruitment process, but the Arizona wide receiver was ready to deliver a decision Wednesday. The 5-star prospect announced his intentions to attend Texas A&M during a ceremony at Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Arizona:

Kirk, rated fourth nationally among receivers in 247Sports' composite rankings, picked the Aggies from an expansive collection of scholarship offers. Several teams were turned away in the process, including top contenders Arizona State and Auburn.

The Sun Devils and Tigers miss out on arguably the nation's most versatile offensive weapon.

He compiled three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons at Saguaro and stepped up as a rusher during the past two campaigns. Kirk recorded 2,300 receiving yards, 2,500 rushing yards and 72 total offensive touchdowns as an upperclassman, per MaxPreps.

The 5'10", 191-pound playmaker heads to College Station, where he'll join forces with top-ranked 2014 receiver Speedy Noil. That's great news for heralded freshman passer Kyle Allen and 5-star Aggies quarterback commit Kyler Murray.

Meanwhile, it's a time to reassess for Arizona State and Auburn. Both teams are still pursuing multiple options at the position.

The Sun Devils hope to reunite quarterback commit Brady White with Trent Irwin, his top receiver at Hart High School in California. The duo posted prolific statistics together, as Irwin became the state's all-time leader in receptions (285) and receiving yards (5,272). 

The 4-star prospect is expected to decide between Stanford and Arizona State.

"It would be great to play together at the next level and have a chance to be successful as Sun Devils," White told me before the season.

Damarkus Lodge, a 5-star receiver who decommitted from Texas A&M this season, could also end up in the desert. He's explored several possibilities since backing off his verbal pledge, including Ole Miss and USC and LSU.

The Sun Devils will look to line up an official visit with the Texas standout, who seeks a second straight state title with Cedar Hill High School this weekend. Lodge has 59 catches for 1,118 yards and 23 touchdowns through 15 games, per MaxPreps.

Arizona State already hosted 4-star receiver Cordell Broadus on campus for a weekend in October. The son of hip-hop icon Snoop Dogg helped lead Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School to a state title this fall, finishing with 39 receptions for 602 yards and 11 touchdowns. 

Auburn will say goodbye to standout receiver Sammie Coates after this season, and D'haquille Williams could follow him to the NFL, so added depth is imperative for the Tigers. 

Florida product John Burt is currently committed to Texas, but he's expressed interest in Auburn throughout his recruitment. He visited the Tigers twice during the regular season and could be a candidate to flip before national signing day.

"I like Auburn a lot," Burt told me earlier this year. "(Wide receivers) coach Dameyune Craig talks with me a lot about what I could do there. The campus is small, and the community really supports Auburn, which I like."

Auburn appeared to be firmly in the mix for 5-star New Orleans receiver Tyron Johnson just a few weeks ago. However, Johnson told Sonny Shipp of 247Sports this past weekend that his top-three list now features LSU, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.

The Tigers are still alive in that hunt, but momentum appears to trending in a negative direction. Johnson racked up more than 1,600 yards as a senior at Warren Easton High School.

Jacksonville receiver Dexter Carter doesn't carry the same recruiting clout as other Auburn targets in this class, but the 3-star playmaker holds an offer. The Tigers are viewed as a strong favorite in 247Sports' Crystal Ball, but North Carolina is expected to host him for an official visit shortly before signing day.

Kirk may be the most multidimensional receiver in this class, so it's difficult for Auburn or Arizona State to truly fill that void. Still, with several receivers still undecided, neither team lacks for alternatives.

 

Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report national college football recruiting analyst Tyler Donohue.

Recruit ratings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Football: 2015 Recruiting Class Shows Mora Building Bruins Strong

UCLA football's regular-season ending loss at Stanford may have felt like an end to some. But with the Bruins returning a veteran roster, and with head coach Jim Mora putting together an impressive 2015 recruiting class, the program's recent run of success may just be the beginning. 

"It’s a constant. It never stops. You’re always striving to be better," Mora said. "No matter what you accomplish, you're trying to accomplish more." 

This year, UCLA accomplished its third consecutive nine-plus-win season—the first time in program history that's happened. But falling short of a Pac-12 Conference title, Mora and the Bruins must continue to build. 

That starts on the recruiting trail. 

"We're on the right path, we just got to keep going in this direction [and] recruiting the right athletes," Mora said. "We're making progress." 

The 2015 recruiting class is Mora's fourth since becoming UCLA's head coach. Each of his previous three classes finished ranked No. 19 or better nationally, and a furious finish for this signing class could give Mora his best signing day crop yet. 

The build to February and signing day has already started, with the Bruins scoring three pledges in the last three weeks. 

Octavius Spencer was the most recent, committing on Tuesday. Spencer is the second cornerback prospect from Southern California to commit to the Bruins this month, joining Colin Samuel of Long Beach Poly. 

The Bruins stand pat at No. 2 in 247Sports' Pac-12 rankings, just behind rival USC. And though UCLA may trail the Trojans, Mora scored a major victory over his cross-town foe. 

On the same night the Bruins beat the Trojans 38-20, Nov. 22, they landed 5-star defensive end Keisean Lucier-South. 

Lucier-South is the second 5-star recruit in the fold for 2015, joining ballyhooed quarterback Josh Rosen. And UCLA could secure a third such commitment this week.

UCLA is a finalist for linebacker Malik Jefferson, a 5-star target out of Poteet High School in Mesquite, Texas. UCLA faithful will learn if the below image of Jefferson in Bruins blue will be reality on Friday, when the linebacker makes his announcement.  

Signing Jefferson would mark a major milestone in Mora's recruiting efforts. The coach has expanded UCLA's reach since taking over before the 2012 season, and the Lone Star State is a priority.

Last year's signing class included linebacker Zach Whitley out of Houston. This year's group already features cornerback Will Lockett, and along with Jefferson, Mora could also sign 5-star running back Soso Jamabo out of Plano West, Texas.  

The 2014 Bruins may have fallen short of expectations, but in that failure, linebacker Myles Jack has a pitch for future teammates:

"I see the program on the brink of being something great. I see the program just right there," he said. "That's what I'd say to [recruits]." 

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Recruiting rankings and information via 247Sports.com

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Football: 2015 Recruiting Class Shows Mora Building Bruins Strong

UCLA football's regular-season ending loss at Stanford may have felt like an end to some. But with the Bruins returning a veteran roster , and with head coach Jim Mora putting ...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

LSU Football: Early Look at Tigers 2015 Roster

LSU head coach Les Miles should be ecstatic about his team's future.

The Tigers were a young team in 2014 that showed flashes of excellence. They will return an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball next season that should challenge for an SEC crown.

Miles will be under immense pressure. The Tigers have not been to the SEC Championship Game since 2011, and this will be the first season since 2009 in which he's failed to reach a double-digit victory total. 

Coaches can only do so much, though. Players are what win championships. 

Here is an early preview on how the 2015 LSU Tigers will look. 

 

Offense

The first order of business will be quarterback. Will LSU be led next season by Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris?

Jennings and Harris' struggles in 2014 are well-documented. It is unlikely either will be named the starter in the spring, so fans must be prepared for more quarterback purgatory. 

LSU's backfield will lose running backs Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard as well as fullback Connor Neighbors, but the Tigers will be just fine without their services. Their departures, though, increase the pressure on Leonard Fournette to carry the load. 

Fournette rushed for 891 yards and eight touchdowns in the regular season. The expectations for next season will be a run for the Heisman Trophy. 

Fournette will have help, as running back Darrel Williams and fullback Melvin Jones return. The Tigers also have 2015 4-star prospects Derrius Guice and Nick Brossette committed to LSU. Guice and Brossette both posses the talent to contribute right away. 

Travin Dural led all receivers in catches, yards and touchdowns. Miles breathed a huge sigh of relief when Dural said he would return next season, per WBRZ's Michael Cauble:

LSU WR Travin Dural says he'll be back next season, even though he's draft eligible. @LSUfball

— Michael Cauble (@MichaelCauble) December 16, 2014

The Tigers will have promising freshmen Malachi Dupre, Trey Quinn and John Diarse returning as well, with Dupre having the most star potential. His 5-star talent flashed throughout the season, evidenced by his five touchdown receptions.

LSU has a receiver commitment from 4-star Jazz Ferguson, but the coaching staff has its sights set on bigger prospects. The Tigers are in the running for 5-star talents Tyron Johnson and Damarkus Lodge

Miles will have to replace senior All-SEC left tackle La'el Collins and center Elliott Porter. There is an outside shot right tackle Jerald Hawkins and left guard Vadal Alexander declare for the NFL. 

Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes will have to decide if he wants to make returning starter Ethan Pocic a center or keep him at right guard. Either way, expect Will Clapp, Garrett Brumfield, K.J. Malone, Andy Dodd and Jonah Austin to be in the mix. There is a chance incoming 5-star freshman Maea Teuhema could start right away. 

 

Defense

LSU's defensive line in 2015 will be a mystery.

The Tigers will return starting defensive tackle duo of Davon Godchaux and Christian LaCouture. Quentin Thomas should provide some depth. 

Defensive line coach Brick Haley will look to develop more depth at the position. Maquedius Bain, Greg Gilmore, Frank Herron and Travonte Valentine must take a step forward to help the unit. 

Haley will lose productive senior defensive end Jermauria Rasco, and junior Danielle Hunter could leave as well. Hunter's decision will weigh heavily on the Tigers. Backups Tashawn Bower, Lewis Neal, Sione Teuhema and Deondre Clark did little though on limited snaps. 

LSU only has one defensive line 2015 commit in 3-star defensive end Isaiah Washington. Haley will hit the recruiting trail hard after bowl season with his sights set on 5-star defensive tackle and Texas A&M commit Daylon Mack. Barton Simmons of 247Sports believes the Tigers have a chance at getting Mack to Baton Rouge. 

LSU will return middle linebacker Kendell Beckwith, who has had a spectacular season since taking over the position from D.J. Welter. Weak-side linebacker Kwon Alexander has been even better as the team's leading tackler, but the junior could enter the NFL draft in the offseason. 

Lamar Louis will likely return as the strong-side linebacker, which leaves defensive coordinator and linebacker coach John Chavis only looking for one possible replacement starter. Duke Riley and Deion Jones have played well in their limited time given. 

The player to keep an eye on is 2014 5-star recruit Clifton Garrett. Garrett redshirted this season and has the potential to crack the starting lineup. 

There is no excuse for LSU to not have the best secondary in college football next season. It is defensive backs coach Corey Raymond's job to best use his embarrassment of riches. 

Cornerback Tre'Davious White returns after a stellar sophomore campaign. Jalen Collins could declare for the NFL draft, but Ed Paris and Dwayne Thomas would step in just fine. Former starter Rashard Robinson is currently suspended, but his possible return to the lineup in 2015 would be an extra boost. 

Raymond's commits in the class of 2015 could also make a massive impact. Kevin Toliver II and Xavier Lewis both proved to B/R's Michael Felder at "The Opening" they have elite ball skills and physicality. 

Raymond will lose starting free safety Ronald Martin. Junior Jalen Mills could possibly follow in Martin's footsteps. But the position will be in good hands regardless with sophomore Rickey Jefferson and dynamic freshman Jamal Adams.

Former LSU Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu has high hopes for Adams next season, per NFL.com:

Tyrann Mathieu: LSU freshman will be CFB's best safety in 2015. http://t.co/8RnnskPjDKpic.twitter.com/msAmAcgHqn

— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) December 12, 2014

Chavis loves to use his 3-2-6 "Mustang" package on passing downs, which requires six defensive backs on the field at once. He will have plenty of ammunition to choose from next season.

 

Special Teams

LSU will have an intense kicking competition.

Starting field-goal kicker Colby Delahoussaye had a shaky end to the regular season, which opens the door for kickoff specialists Trent Domingue and Cameron Gamble. Domingue and Gamble will also battle for the role of primary kickoff specialist.

Junior Jamie Keehn will return as the punter in 2015, with Domingue as his backup. Deep snapper Reid Ferguson will also come back for his senior season.

White and Fournette's roles as punt and kickoff returner could respectively change. Miles might not want to risk injury to arguably his two most important players.

Special teams coach Bradley Dale Peveto has a wide range of options to evaluate as returners. Peveto does, though, have the comfort in knowing most of his kick and punt teams featured underclassmen.    

 


Stats, rankings and additional information provided by cfbstats.comESPN.com and LSU Sports Information. Recruiting information provided by 247Sports.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.   

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The Georgia Tech Wreck Parade: One of College Football's Most Unique Traditions

One of the more unique school traditions is Georgia Tech's Wreck Parade. Dating back to 1929 and brought back by student demand in 1946, this parade shows off the engineering skills of Georgia Tech's students.

Check out what the Wreck Parade means to Georgia Tech.

A special thanks to the Ideas United group for all their hard work on this piece.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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