TTDave's Inside The Shell

Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.

Welcome to our next edition of Inside the Shell, the weekly Maryland football recruiting roundup.

Receiver/Defensive Back News

Trevon Diggs, WR/CB, Avalon (Gaithersburg, Md.): Excuse the 180-degree turn we’re about to pull here, folks. After suggesting last week Diggs was probably bound for Alabama or an SEC program, we’re now hearing Stefon Diggs’ younger brother is back on the Maryland Pride bandwagon.

Of course, in fairness to Diggs, he’s personally been feeling the Terps ever since his good friend, quarterback Dwayne Haskins (Bullis/Potomac, Md.), popped to UMD back in May. Recall, Diggs told me in a rather revealing video interview the proposed package deal between he and Haskins was a full go. Although he wanted to visit the likes of ‘Bama, LSU, Georgia, Tennessee and a couple others, he hinted Maryland was practically the team to beat.

But, as Keith indicated on the message board, there was an underlying family situation that may have prevented Diggs from ultimately choosing Maryland. The fact Stefon Diggs dropped to the NFL Draft’s fifth round, not aided by UMD’s failure to produce a top-flight quarterback to feed him on-point passes, apparently didn’t sit well with some in the family’s corner.

So much so that we were inclined to forecast the younger Diggs to another locale, despite his on-the-record pro-Terps comments. Earlier this week, though, we were told the Diggses had been appeased and would allow Trevon Diggs to follow in his brother’s footsteps.

Now, the Avalon receiver/corner still wants today visit Tuscaloosa, Ala., Baton Rouge, La., Atlanta, Ga., Auburn, Ala., Knoxville, Tenn., and Blacksburg, Va., but said visits are “just part of the process.” Granted, there are no givens in recruiting, but this particular situation should end in Maryland’s favor.

Diggs intends to announce his college decision July 4.

Evan Fairs, WR, Foster (Richmond, Texas): Back in May, Maryland became the first program to offer this Texas wideout, and more than a month later the Terps remain the only major verbal for the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder (Texas State has also offered). Not surprisingly. Fairs said UMD is sitting No. 1, and he and his parents are eager to visit College Park, Md., for the first time in late June/early July.

Fairs and UMD area recruiter Keenan McCardell have developed a rapport since the initial offer, the pair speaking about twice each week. Moreover, the Lone Star State product said the Terps’ need for receivers, the fact they just produced Stefon Diggs (Vikings), and UMD’s conference affiliation all ring true. Not even the distance from Texas to College Park seems to bother him (“I don’t mind getting out of the house and exploring new places,” Fairs said).

The question here is, How much will the Terps push for Fairs? Randy Edsall and Co. may only be taking two more class of 2016 wideouts, and with Tino Ellis (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.), Trevon Diggs, Aaron Mathews (Clairton, Pa.), Isaiah Wright (Kingswood Oxford/West Hartford, Conn.) and others in play it’s questionable whether or not they’d accept a Fairs pledge. (At the same time, Terps receivers are dropping like flies -- see: Winfree, Juwann; Leak, Marcus -- so maybe Edsall will take more than three receivers .)

It could be a moot point anyway, because while Fairs currently has UMD in the driver’s seat, he seems to be searching for other looks. He just attended Oklahoma State’s camp and is hoping for that verbal, and he’ll be at Texas Tech; TCU; Baylor; Texas A&M; and Kansas one-days coming up.

Fairs went on to say if he fails to secure more offers this summer he could wait until after his senior film is evaluated before committing. That could obviously change if Fairs is blown away by his College Park trip and the staff presses for a pop (provided they even want him), but the vibe is he won’t be “settling” for Maryland (or vice versa).

Let’s see how the situation plays out later this summer. (ARTICLE).

Grant Holloway, WR, Grassfield (Chesapeake, Va.): We mentioned that Holloway listed Maryland among his top 10 contenders a couple Shells back, but this week Scout’s Michael Clark was able to interview the 6-2, 190-pounder to see exactly where he stood with said 10 (Tennessee, Va Tech, Michigan, Georgia, UMD, UVA, PSU, NC State, Florida, FSU).

Initially we chose not to include Holloway on the hot board, despite his listing the Terps among his main suitors, but it does sound like there’s enough interest for UMD to possibly sneak into the top five.

Holloway said the schools he wants to see this summer are Georgia, Florida (no offer yet) and FSU (no offer yet) first and foremost, followed by Maryland and Penn State. The Grassfield product then said if he couldn’t make it to College Park or State College, Pa., during the next couple months, he’d definitely attempt to attend games at each during the fall.

Now, if Holloway secures coveted verbals from UF or FSU, he’s probably going to be a Gator or a Seminole. But if the two Sunshine State powers opt for other wideouts, perhaps that will open the door for the PSUs, UMDs, UVAs, Va Techs (his previously stated No. 1) and Georgias. We’ll monitor the situation to see what kind of twists and turns Holloway’s recruitment takes.

Parnell Motley, CB, H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.): Our D.C. sources had given off some pro-Maryland vibes in regards to Motley earlier this spring, leading me to trek through Woodson and interview the local cornerback. And, indeed, Motley indicated he was high on the hometown school and had the Terps among his main contenders thanks to area recruiter Mike Locksley’s overtures. He told me he was setting up a summer College Park visit and was “feeling” DMV-to-UMD (and that was before Dwayne Haskins even committed).

But, at the same time, Motley said he was very much open to other suitors, namely those from the SEC (Kentucky and Georgia), ACC (Wake Forest) and Big Ten mainstay Michigan State. Of those, the sense was the Spartans were probably foremost on his mind since his teammate, Abdul Adams, was already committed there and the MSU staff was making a potent push for both Woodson prospects.

But earlier this week Motley tweeted out his college decision was imminent, leading us to believe perhaps he’d be picking Maryland. After all, it was the only school he’d seen this offseason, and he isn’t scheduled to see East Lansing, Mich., until mid-June. But our sources suggested otherwise, letting us know UMD, for various reasons, had faded a bit. The Spartans were indeed the clear frontrunners.

In other words, Motley is expected to pop to MSU sight unseen. Moving on.

Jayme Thompson, S, Iowa Western C.C. (Council Bluffs, Iowa): This Ohio native, who is attending a familiar junior college, said he’d been hearing from the Terps earlier in the spring, but apparently the conversations have ceased. He never received more than a cursory look from Maryland, while Indiana, Iowa State, Arkansas State, Toledo, Ohio, Southern Miss, Troy, Miami of Ohio, Tulsa and Western Kentucky all anted up. Meanwhile, Ole Miss and Arizona State may offer once Thompson treks to their respective campuses.

We kept Thompson on the hot board just in case, but when he announced via Twitter he planned to commit June 24, that all but ended any possibility of Maryland getting involved.

Thompson has trips to Arizona State, Ole Miss, Indiana and Southern Miss coming up before he pledges. If the Sun Devils and Rebels choose not to pursue, the safety will likely wind up a Hoosier.

Tony Butler, S, St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio): The Terps have had an offer out to the Pitt commit Butler for a couple months, and while we weren't inclined to initially list him on the hot board, it does seem like UMD is gaining some traction here. Maryland area recruiter Greg Studrawa, along with defensive backs coach Darnell Perkins, have been in touch with Butler, letting him know the Terps need safeties and there's an opportunity to play early in College Park. Butler is intrigued enough by the program that he said he'd be taking an official visit this fall, so it sounds like UMD has a shot.

At the same time, Butler has stated time and again he's a firm Pitt pledge and would have to be "wowed" in order to flip. The vibe from our Midwest sources is that Butler will stick with the Panthers unless, say, a Michigan or Ohio State offer crops up. And the Wolverines very well could throw their name into the ring once Butler visits Ann Arbor later this month.

Other suitors Butler is considering include Rutgers, Arizona, Minnesota, Nebraska and potentially more. He said he wants to take officials to UMD, Michigan, RU and Pitt, though that's subject to change.

Butler's recruitment is bound to twist and turn in the months ahead, but we'll list him as "cool" on the hot board for now.

Linemen News

Devery Hamilton, OT, Gilman (Baltimore, Md.): The local four-star tackle intends to choose his college destination at the end of June and is maintaining a top three favorites list of Stanford, Michigan and Maryland. Hamilton let me know earlier this week all three aforementioned programs were tied atop the leaderboard. He said while he originally had the Cardinal and Wolverines out front, the Terps had basically drawn even after several conversations with UMD recruiter Mike Locksley and head coach Randy Edsall.

My gut read following the interview, however, was Stanford and Michigan held a slight edge over Maryland, but the Terps are going to get one more shot to vault ahead of SU and MU. Either this coming week or in mid-June Hamilton will take his final college visit to College Park, staying overnight with several players. The Gilman product said he’s seen pretty much all UMD has to offer, but has yet to speak extensively to any current Terps, so he wants to pick their brains about the staff and university.

Moreover, the trip will give Locksley, Edsall and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa a chance to sell Hamilton on the stay-home movement. Of course, while Hamilton likes the school’s academics and the coaches’ emphasis on the latter, he tends to waver on the whole DMV-to-UMD concept. Hamilton acknowledged new Maryland pledge Dwayne Haskins has been in his ear, but went on to say that, “basing my decision entirely off of location or who else is going there is not the right thing to do.”

The tackle also said he had “all his questions answered” about Stanford and Michigan following offseason trips to each, and didn’t feel the need to return to either before announcing his destination. That comment, along with Hamilton’s insistence that Haskins and Co. wouldn’t influence him, leads me to believe he’s bound for Palo Alto, Calif., or Ann Arbor, Mich.

But before writing him off, let’s see if Locksley and the Maryland staff can work some mojo during this upcoming visit. (ARTICLE).

Elijah Johnson, OL, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): When I caught up with Johnson earlier this week he was still in the process of setting up his impending College Park visit, which will likely occur this coming week or next (DeMatha will actually be at Maryland June 20 for a 7-on-7).

The trip is one Maryland fans should pay attention to, because there’s a chance it could seal the deal with Johnson, who plans to publically announce his college decision June 25. I hinted at it in last week’s Shell, but now I’m feeling more confident the DeMatha lineman has the Terps out in front of Rutgers, UVA, Illinois, Pitt, Boston College and Indiana. Like his teammates Tino Ellis and Terrance Davis, Johnson seems to be on board with DMV-to-UMD and wants the chance to represent his hometown school.

But here’s the caveat: There might not be any room left at the inn. The sense is the Terps will take just two more offensive linemen with three already on board (a fourth if you count greyshirt tackle Alex Hall from Ohio).

Those two spots will likely be reserved for Terrance Davis, who isn’t choosing his school until December, and Hamilton. That means the likes of Chandler Reeves (Eagles Christian Landing/McDonough, Ga.), Richard Merritt (Carroll/Washington, D.C.), Zach Bycznski (Berea, Ohio), Stephen Spanellis (Gilman), Mackenzie Nworah (Manvel, Texas), Eddy Fish (Lawrence Academy/Groton, Mass.), Johnson and maybe more could be on the outside looking in.

Now, it’s entirely possible Hamilton (Stanford, Michigan out in front), heads elsewhere, so Johnson might be in luck. But the staff may suggest he wait a bit before popping -- just to see what transpires with the Gilman recruit. (The Terps would surely take Merritt or Nworah, but they are longshots. The UMD coaches likely wouldn’t make Johnson wait for the slim possibility either of those two come around to Maryland.)

If the Terps pass on Johnson, Rutgers could be an option for him. The DeMatha lineman was just in Piscataway, N.J., for a visit and had naught but praise for the Scarlet Knights. Johnson noted how the RU staff has been with him since the jump, and how both he and his parents were impressed with the program in general.

Let’s see what transpires in the next month or so.

Zach Bycznski, OC, Berea (Ohio): This Ohio center was supposed to visit College Park June 16, but area recruiter Greg Studrawa informed him earlier this week the Terps were only accepting one or two more local offensive linemen (Terrance Davis, Devery Hamilton), meaning Bycznski’s offer was no longer committable. Thus, the Ohio product opted to cancel his trip and instead focus on three of his other suitors. (Bycznski’s comments probably mean Chandler Reeves, Eddy Fish and other out-of-state linemen intending to camp at/trip to College Park will renege on their visits as well.)

Bycznski said he’d be heading to Cincinnati June 12, followed my Miami of Ohio and Cincinnati, all of which have offered. He expects to select one of that trio by the end of June so he can concentrate on summer workouts and his senior season.

Stephen Spanellis, OT, Gilman: Like Bycznski, the Maryland staff hasn’t been pushing for Spanellis either. Even though he clearly falls into the “local” category and has claimed a Terps’ offer since last summer, Spanellis never seemed like a UMD priority. His Maryland recruiter, Mike Locksley, didn’t have consistent contact with him, nor was Spanellis urged to visit College Park for games and junior days (unlike his teammates, Ellison Jordan and Devery Hamilton).

On top of that, Spanellis didn’t exactly give off an “I want to be a Terp” vibe, either. He checked out UMD just once during the last couple years and was more inclined to take out-of-state trips to the likes of Wake Forest, Northwestern and Boston College.

The sense is Spanellis is bound to be a Deacon, Wildcat or Eagle before it’s all said and done (likely later this summer). And now that we pretty much know the Maryland staff is primarily focusing on Terrance Davis, Devery Hamilton and possibly Elijah Johnson, it’s safe to remove Spanellis from the hot board.

Chandler Reeves, OT, Eagles Christian Landing (McDonough, Ga.): The last time we spoke to Reeves, a week ago, he was in touch with Maryland area recruiter Lyndon Johnson and was setting up his initial College Park trip for late June. But much has happened during the last few days, and now it looks like both the Terps’ communication has all but ceased and the intended Maryland visit are in jeopardy.

As aforementioned, the UMD staff seems fully focused on its last few local offensive line targets, so Reeves' contact with Johnson is bound to wane -- if it hasn’t already. Plus Reeves personally just snagged a pair of coveted offers from Georgia Tech and Clemson following one-day camps, admitting via text the Jackets and Tigers now resided at the forefront of his favorites list.

I’ve written numerous times in past Shells how much Reeves wanted that hometown Georgia Tech scholarship, so now that it’s in hand, it may only be a matter of time before he pops. Clemson, though, is making things interesting considering Reeves is set to revisit CU for a second straight weekend June 12 (hint: he could pop on campus). Fact is the chances of him ending up in College Park are now slim to none.

Reeves has been removed from the hot board.

Zach Adams, OL, Riverbend (Fredericksburg, Va.): This fast-rising 6-7, 310-pound Terps’ tackle target returned to his native Texas last weekend to participate in the Longhorns’ camp. Adams didn’t land the coveted UT offer just yet, but if it materializes, his recruitment could end then and there.

Regardless, Adams doesn’t sound like he’s seriously considering Maryland any longer -- even though he told our Texas analysts that, beyond the Longhorns, he had no clear favorites. The vibe is that while Adams is pining for a UT look, he’ll hone in on Penn State, UVA, WVU and Miami if it doesn’t come to fruition.

At this point, Adams has not scheduled a visit to Maryland, and it doesn’t sound like he’s inclined to do so. Thus, he’s been removed from the hot board.

Jeffery Pooler, DL, Chaminade Julienne/Dayton, Ohio): The Terps’ commit Pooler visited his future college destination for the first time June 4-5, and the Ohio native came away raving. Pooler said his overnight stay in College Park all but solidified his standing with UMD.

“Maryland was great; it was everything I thought it would be,” Pooler said. “It was really nice there, and I had a really nice time. I know for sure I made the right decision in choosing Maryland, and I’m ready to spend my next four to five years there.”

In particular, Pooler lauded the meetings with head coach Randy Edsall (“he was almost like a father figure,” Pooler said), defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski, area recruiter Greg Studrawa (“I love that guy”) and defensive line coach Chad Wilt (“He’s a smart guy, a personable guy and he’s going to help me develop a lot.”).

Pooler said his player hosts, Damian Prince and Will Likely, welcomed him in like he was already part of the team, while he enjoyed talking to the academic advisors and others on campus too. He talked up the facility upgrades, Under Armour, the location near Washington, D.C., and more as well.

Pooler should be returning to College Park July 4, and will also take an official visit during the fall. The idea, for now, is to arrive at Maryland permanently this January, when he’s set to graduate high school. That’s a positive development for Terps fans, who may have been worried Pooler would jump to a larger program should the Michigans or Ohio States of the world ante up.

“Coach [Dudzinski] wants me to enroll early so I can get there before the other freshmen and get a head start,” Pooler said. “So I’m definitely going to do that.” (ARTICLE).

Tommy Carnifax, DE, Howland (Ohio): Carnifax had been trending away from the Terps ever since he visited Northwestern, his stated No. 1., but this week we learned the Maryland staff may have given up the ghost altogether. The Ohio defensive end, who has a top three leaderboard of Northwestern, UMD and Duke, said he hadn’t had much contact with either Terps’ area recruiter Greg Studrawa or defensive line coach Chad Wilt recently. Carnifax mentioned how he and Studrawa used to exchange messages “all the time,” but it had tapered off considerably the last couple weeks.

Meanwhile, he said the staffs from Northwestern and Duke have continued to pursue in earnest, leading us to believe Carnifax is practically signed, sealed and delivered to the Wildcats. The Howland prospect did just take his final offseason trip to Duke June 8-9, so there’s a shot the Blue Devils could pull off the upset, but, regardless, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be coming to College Park. From what I could surmise, Carnifax now has Maryland third in the pecking order, despite his high praise for the campus; school; educational benefits; and staff following a May 4 visit.

Carnifax said his college decision was imminent, and he could very well be a Wildcat by the time you finish reading the Shell. (ARTICLE).

Linebacker News

Keith Simms, LB, Landon (Bethesda, Md.): As you read this, the Terps’ principal linebacker target is visiting College Park for a deeper look at the school’s academics. Simms has been on campus numerous times and knows what’s up with the facility upgrades, staff’s plans for him and the like, but he and his family wanted to delve deeper into Maryland’s business school June 12.

Education is clearly a primary factor in Simms’ recruitment, and it’s one of the main reasons he’s keeping UMD under prime consideration. Not only is Simms aware of the school’s academic reputation in general, but the coaches, from area recruiter Chad Wilt to head coach Randy Edsall, have harped on that aspect of the program as well. In addition, the hometown pull, the chance to join his DMV friends in college, and his relationship with the staff all have the Landon backer thinking Terps.

We’ll attempt to touch base with Simms following his latest foray through College Park, although it’s just one of many stops this June. Immediately after he’s finished at Maryland, the Simmses are trekking down to Blacksburg for a look at Virginia Tech. After that, they’ll head further south to Duke before flying north to check out Wisconsin, Michigan State and maybe Boston College. A visit to recent offeree Oregon and a return to Stanford are also in the works for July, although the latter isn’t a definite.

Simms recently suggested his newer offers from MSU and Oregon held prime appeal, and both look to be strong contenders. Wisconsin and Duke, meanwhile, have been pushing for quite some time and have Simms’ ear too.

As I wrote last week, the vibe is Maryland, MSU, Oregon, Wisconsin and Duke are foremost on the brain, with Stanford as the darkhorse (recall, Simms has to take a couple AP courses to qualify at SU, which may prevent him from attending school in Palo Alto).

Simms has a tendency to waffle back and forth, however, so we fully expect his situation to ebb and flow as the summer moves along. He also has no intention of popping before taking official visits, meaning there are bound to be new developments this fall..

Noah Burks, LB, Carmel (Ind.): I touched base with the Maryland linebacker target Burks a week after his UMD visit, assuming he was closing in on his college decision. But evidently Burks has gone into a stall pattern of sorts, saying he’s “not really stressing” about selecting a school.

Right now, he’s keeping the Terps and Wisconsin neck-and-neck atop his leaderboard, with Minnesota running third, and said he doesn’t foresee any other programs getting involved. Burks said he’s most comfortable with the Terps and Badgers, and is in the process of weighing the pros and cons of each before announcing his destination.

“I mean, I loved both schools, so I’m putting them 50-50 right now,” Burks said. “Minnesota is kind of on the up-rise, but it’s probably going to be between Maryland and Wisconsin.”

When pressed, though, Burks seemed to be favoring the Badgers above the other two contenders. He dropped hints about the Wisconsin staff’s proactive overtures and the program’s history in the Big Ten, while mentioning how he “definitely wants to play in front of a rabid fan base like Wisconsin’s.”

Again, Burks wouldn’t outright admit Wisconsin was the leader, but, as I previously wrote in the last couple Shells, our gut is he’ll wind up in Madison, Wisc. Let’s see if Terps’ area recruiter Chad Wilt can change Burks’ thinking before he’s ready to pop.

Tymar Sutton, LB, McKeesport (Pa.): If Burks falls by the wayside, it’s conceivable the Terps could turn up the heat on the Pennsylvania product Sutton, who holds a UMD offer. Sutton is set to revisit College Park later in June, giving area recruiter Greg Studrawa, defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski and Co. an opportunity to put on the hard sell.

It’s going to take a significant effort too. Sutton gave the Terps plenty of props following a spring trip to Maryland, but he didn’t seem as infatuated with UMD as some other contenders.

Sutton has stated time and again West Virginia, his first major offer, leads for his services, while Wisconsin is now firmly in play following a June 8 trek to Madison. The sense for the time being is the Mountaineers and Badgers are running one-two, with Syracuse; Illinois; Maryland; and BC trailing.

Sutton, though, isn’t planning on committing until after taking official visits this fall. He said Wisconsin (we’ll see if the Badgers still have a linebacker spot open for him) and WVU would surely be two of them, and in the process of identifying other “viable” suitors.

It’s likely Sutton’s recruitment will change in the coming months, although perhaps he’ll pop earlier if, say, a Wisconsin or WVU puts on the squeeze play. Maryland’s best chance at snagging the McKeesport prospect is if the Mountaineers and Badgers secure their share of linebacker commits, allowing the Terps to scoop him up (provided UMD has a spot open).

Kyle Taylor, LB, Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.): Taylor was supposed to take his first summer visit to Boston College last weekend, followed by Maryland and Wisconsin, but he ended up cancelling all three and committing to Iowa June. 9.

The Gonzaga backer seemingly had UMD out in front for his services following an interview last week. He suggested the hometown movement and the chance to play in front of family and friends had his attention for sure. But, as we said in the previous Shell, there was a sense feelings may not have been mutual.

Maryland has a couple more intriguing linebacker targets on its board, and a potential scholarship-worthy candidate in Ali’I Niumatalolo (Broadneck/Annapolis, Md.), who will camp in College Park later in June, so we weren’t sure Randy Edsall would accept a Taylor pop anyway. In fact, we were led to believe his other offers -- BC, Wisconsin and Va Tech – weren’t ready to take Taylor either.

So, with several staffs potentially backing away, Taylor opted for the program that suits up his older brother, Myles. Taylor previously said he didn’t want to attend college so far from home, but Iowa was likely his best high-Division I option.

Koby Quansah, LB, Kingswood Oxford (West Hartford, Conn.): Quansah has been on the brink of falling off the hot board for a couple months now, and I finally opted to cut him off this week. The four-star linebacker has been picking up offers right and left, and once he landed the coveted Notre Dame verbal, well, that about sealed the deal. The Irish have long held appeal to the Connecticut product, so now that the scholarship is on the table, it's probably only a matter of time before Quansah pops to them.

Quansah, though, refuses to publicly announce any leaders, insisting he's wide open in his recruitment. But it's fairly obvious he's focusing in on Notre Dame, with Duke, Michigan and possibly Rutgers in the trail position. He's going to wait a bit to see what the Stanford staff decides, but if no Cardinal offer materializes he's likely UND bound. Regardless, we don't expect him to wind up in College Park, despite area recruiter Keith Dudzinski's best efforts.

Moving on.

Ellis Brooks, LB, Benedictine (Richmond, Va.) (2017): In addition to the receiver Grant Holloway, Scout’s Michael Clark spoke to emerging 2017 linebacker Ellis Brooks too. Brooks has early offers from Duke, Va Tech, UNC, NC State, Wake, Maryland, East Carolina and others, with programs such as Clemson, WVU, Michigan, MSU, UF, Miami and BC showing interest.

Brooks is likely bound for a bigwig program before it’s all said and done, but he did offer up some praise for UMD, which he’ll be visiting this June. “My thoughts on Maryland is it’s a really good school and it’s in the Big Ten,” Brooks said. He went on to laud area recruiter Kennan McCardell, as well as the university’s academics.

If nothing else, it’s encouraging that McCardell is making initial inroads with some of Northern Virginia’s elite 2017 talents.

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