The Hilltop Review 4/24

Come inside another jam packed Hilltop Review for all the latest SMU recruiting news!

Amarillo defensive tackle talks SMU offer

By: Billy Embody

SMU assistant coach Keith Gunn offered Amarillo defensive tackle Ivory Jackson (pictured above) this past week and Jackson said it was something that he felt coming.

“Me and my friend were planning on going to one of their camps and then he (Gunn) messaged me on Twitter and he wanted to talk to me so I called him,” Jackson said. “He was saying he really liked my highlights and the way I played. He was saying him and his defensive coordinator and defensive line coach got together and had a long conversation about it. He said he wants me to be an SMU player and offered me.”

Gunn is already making an impact on Jackson in the two weeks he’s been talking with him.

“He’s kind of slipping into that father figure for me with just the way he’s talking to me and stuff like that,” Jackson said. “Once I get to actually meet him, I just feel like he’s going to click right off the bat.”

For SMU’s defensive line, Jackson said he could come in right away and make an impact.

“I feel like I can impact them quite a bit on defense. I’m excited because I watched them quite a bit last year,” the 2016 defensive tackle said. “I was just really excited. They slid into my top four.”

The 6-3, 275-pound defensive tackle said even after SMU’s 1-11 season, the new staff will have it turned around and that has him excited.

“The way I look at it, I understand they had that type of season and they got the new coaching staff and by them offering me, I feel like I can go in there and have fun and make some plays to get to a bowl game and win a championship,” Jackson said.

The SMU defense needs players like Jackson, who can come in and bring the high-energy, aggressive nature they want.

“I bring a new kind of swag to it. They already have a high motor, but one that’s a loud defense that’s ready to go where each player already knows what they got to do,” Jackson said. “I can build a certain type of chemistry with each player there.”

Jackson is planning to make it to SMU this summer for a visit, but also has a few other schools coming after him.

Kansas, North Texas and Texas State have also offered the west Texas lineman. Wisconsin, UCLA, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma State are all showing interest.

As far as a decision timeline, Jackson isn’t rushing into anything.

“I do not know when I want a decision yet. I just know I want a good fit for me and the coaches and my future,” Jackson said. “My mom can go ahead to the games and come up when she wants to. There’s a lot I’m thinking about, but right now I’m having fun with it.”

Three schools are standing out so far for Jackson though.

“I’m really leaning towards SMU, Kansas State and Tech. I’m leaning towards those three right now,” Jackson said.

As far as SMU, Jackson said the family atmosphere the staff is showing him has him high on the Mustangs.

“They’re not really an offense team or a defense team. They’re a team that plays together. They have a really good connection and family base and that’s something I’m looking for.”

2017 linebacker talks SMU spring game visit

By: Patrick Engel

More than half of Division I football teams have offered sophomore linebacker Anthony Hines, but the school the Plano East (Texas) linebacker has visited the most is in his own backyard. Hines has been to SMU a handful of times since Chad Morris took over as head coach in December, most recently for the April 18 spring game. And it’s not just the proximity to home that keeps Hines coming back.

“I really enjoyed the visit. Of course, it was just like home over there,” Hines said. “They welcomed me, and it was a great overall visit…I enjoy coach Mac (linebackers coach Archie McDaniel) and coach Morris, and I love it when I get over there.”

Like many other prospects, Hines loves the family atmosphere the coaches create at SMU, and he knows the coaches appreciate his interest.

“They recruit me really hard. Every time I go down there, I get a chance to meet with both of them (McDaniel and Morris),” Hines said. “I spend all my visits with coach Mac the whole time. He just shows me the ropes.”

McDaniel isn’t the only mentor figure for Hines. His former teammate, Austin Corbett, signed a letter of intent to play for SMU in February, and Hines seeks him out for advice all the time.

“We’re talking about just the recruiting process as a whole and how to approach it,” Hines said. “Just to take it slow and really make a decision that’s in my best interest, since I’m going to be spending a lot of time there.”

Hines recently visited TCU earlier in the spring for their uniform unveiling, and saw Texas Tech and Texas State as well. He is headed to Arkansas this weekend for a visit. He doesn’t have any other visits planned at the moment.

The 6-foot-3, 223-pound Hines has 67 offers, with San Diego State, Vanderbilt and Georgia being the most recent to offer. He doesn’t have any favorites, nor is there one school that is recruiting him more aggressively than the rest.

“All of them are recruiting me hard, so it’s hard to say,” Hines said. “After my junior season, that’s when I’ll focus on narrowing this thing down.”

Hines’ 4.5 40-yard dash and pursuit ability are a couple reasons why he’s so heavily recruited.

“My strong suit is definitely pursuit, I have relentless pursuit and good speed and try to use it to my advantage,” Hines said. “I’m unblockable, but even if I do get engaged with a lineman, I have the strength to get off and make the play.”

Plano East’s base defense is a 4-3, but the Panthers run some 3-4 looks as well. Hines plays primarily outside linebacker.

2017 wide receiver recaps SMU spring game visit

By: Scott Sanford

Despite signing three of DFW’s top receiver in the 2015 class, the SMU coaching staff continues to host a large amount of pass catchers in the 2016 and 2017 classes.

At SMU’s spring game on Saturday, 2017 Bishop TK Gorman (Tex.) wide receiver Judah Bell visited the Hilltop and came away impressed by the festivities and atmosphere around Ford Stadium.

“It was a good experience. I’ve never been to anything like that so it was good they gave us a tour of the campus,” Bell said. “It wasn’t all sports either. They showed us how they take care of students educationally and all of the options you have to get your degree.”

The 6-foot-3, 183-pound wideout spoke to a few players as well as head coach Chad Morris before taking in the spring game.

“I just told him that I was glad to be there and I thanked him for the opportunity to come and spend my Saturday afternoon there,” Bell said.

Bell just wrapped up his track season, and with summer right around the corner, the rising junior will transition into basketball and football.

Bell enjoys playing both sports, but at times he has to make sacrifices.

“I try my best to focus on both equally because there’s always going to be some conflict,” Bell explained. “If there is a conflict, I try and measure which one might be more important than the other and make a decision off that.”

With two more years of school left, Bell will likely continue to play both sports for another year before choosing one to focus on his senior year.

Bell, who finished his sophomore season with 49 catches for 985 yards and 10 touchdowns, has yet to pick up his first offer, but has been picking up interest from Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, and both schools plan to visit the receiver during spring evaluations.

Heading into summer and into his junior year, Bell has his sight set on improving at least two aspects of his game.

“I feel like I need to improve my speed and quickness,” Bell said. “There’s always room for improvement on any level, so to perform at the highest level, I know I need to get a lot faster.”

2017 Oklahoma linebacker grabs SMU offer

By: Billy Embody

2017 Collinsville (Okla.) linebacker Levi Draper is still early in the recruiting process, but SMU got in on the linebacker and the offer came directly from head coach Chad Morris.

“I’m very excited. I had a good conversation with coach Morris and I plan on getting down there soon and checking everything out. I’m grateful and excited.”

Draper visited TCU a couple weeks ago and quickly checked out SMU, but then got connected with the SMU staff shortly after.

“They had went through some people to hit me up and today I talked to coach Morris and he officially offered,” Draper said. “He was just saying how he loved my film and what he saw. He’s excited to get me on campus and show me around.”

It’s still early in the process for Draper and he’s looking forward to building relationships with the SMU staff because Draper admits he doesn’t know too much.

“I don’t know too much about it and that’s why I’m so eager to get down there and check everything out,” Draper said. “I’ve driven by it and stuff like that so I can tell the campus is beautiful and I’m excited to check it out.

SMU, Tulsa, Lousiville and Arkansas State have offered Draper. Clemson, Oklahoma, Stanford, Arkansas, TCU and a few other schools have shown serious interest in the Oklahoma linebacker.

Draper has visited TCU, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Oklahoma State for visits already.

On the field, coaches are loving Draper’s ability to run well.

“I try to be technically sound. I’m 6-3, 230 and they love the way I move. I run the 100 meters and 200 in track and run an 11.1 and low 23 200 so my instincts and the way I move.”

Draper said he’s focused on finding a good fit both on and off the field.

“I’m just trying to find a defense and a system that I fit into great. I want to go somewhere I have great relationships with the coaches,” Draper said. “After talking with coach Morris, I can tell I really like him.”

Versatile lineman picks up SMU offer

By: Billy Embody

Marble Falls lineman Ryan Becker has seen Chad Morris' connections at work now as he saw SMU offer the 2016 lineman last week by knowing his head coach.

“My head coach from our school is big friends with him and I ended up getting hooked up with him and talking to most of the coaches,” Becker said. “Ended up talking to quite a few of them. They were all in the room watching my film at the time.”

Morris and the staff were all sitting around watching film and liked what they saw enough to offer.

“It was good. They really liked me when they were watching my film and they were really impressed with it,” Becker said. “They don't really know where they want me yet, but they want me to bring what I have to the table.”

The staff doesn't know if they want Becker along the offensive or defensive line or even at a slot/wing position, but they know they like what they saw.

UTSA and Texas Tech offered Becker as well with Becker grabbing the Tech offer the next day. Northwestern is also showing interest.

The SMU offer though came out of the blue.

“I haven't heard anything from them I don't think. Coach told me they're interested and I need to call them. It was kind of nice the way it worked out.”

Becker understands what SMU brings to the table with the entire package and that's a plus.

“I know that it's a good education there and it's not too far away. I just need to go up and visit the school and visit the coaches and see what I think after that. I do plan to go up sometime in the summer and see where I fit in.”

The staff and Becker both don't know where he can fit in, but right now Becker said it'd be tough to make it along the offensive line.

“A lot of people have asked me that because I've played so many different positions, but I just really want to play football. I just want to hit the field and get going as soon as I can,” the 6-5, 225-pound lineman said. “The only thing about O-line is that I don't know if I'm going to be big enough. I've had a little trouble putting on weight.”

Despite Becker not seeing himself at offensive line, he knows he needs to get on his weight.

“I'm just trying to get it as high as I can because if I was to play defensive end or really anything I'll have to gain weight.”

In terms of a decision, Becker isn't in any rush.

“I don't want to wait around and see how many offers I can possibly get, but if something comes at me the last minute and I can go visit and get a good vibe there and commit too early, I don't want to close my options down.”

Becker learned the most important thing from his coach when he was first moved to offensive line.

“I think most of the things is, when I was a sophomore I got moved to O-line and my coach just told me, 'play through the echo of the whistle.' That's the main thing is give it everything I've got until the play is over. I think that's what coaches are seeing is how hard I play.”

2017 receiver recaps SMU spring game visit

By: Andrew Hattersley

2017 San Angelo Central HS (Tex.) wide receiver Aaron Wooten took some time out of his own spring practices over the weekend to take in SMU’s spring game and was impressed with the turnout under the new staff.

“I loved it, I liked the fact that a lot of people came out to watch the game, getting ready for the season, they’re excited for the season,” Wooten said, “There were a lot of students that were sitting around where I was, I could tell they were excited for it and I like that they’re going to support them.”

On the field, Wooten also liked the fast paced nature of the offense and how a couple years down the line, he could already see himself fitting in perfectly with this offense.

“The team looked good, they’re kind of running a fast paced offense like the one I’m running here at Central, I like it,” Wooten said, “I think I would fit well in their offense and doing things at a fast pace and I think coach Morris is going to turn it around which he already has.”

The 6-0, 186-pound receiver also believes he would be a perfect fit for SMU off the field given their shared commitment to exhibiting strong character off the field as well.

“I love the coaches they’re awesome, and on a personal level too, they’re going to get to know you and be a good influence and be a big brother, they’re going to be able to teach you on and off the field, which Morris really stressed,” Wooten said, “Off the field character, that’s the thing he said is he wants you to be the off the field character so the coaches are awesome, all of them defense and offense.”

Wooten also wouldn’t mind spending his next four years in the facilities that SMU currently has, and will have in the future after their renovations are complete.

“The facilities are awesome, you can tell they really get supported, obviously the school is really nice, you know they do give scholarships there but it is expensive,“ Wooten said, “But the facilities are awesome, they really are top notch and it’d be a really cool place to play.”

Wooten only has one offer right now from SMU but he has heard from TCU, Tulsa, North Texas, Houston, as well.

Wooten suffered a broken shoulder during the season but still led his team in touchdowns despite only playing in three and a half games. After being told he would be out of the season, Wooten was able to return in just 6 weeks of action.

“I healed up in probably 4-5 and I only did therapy for a week and I healed pretty good so coming back I didn’t miss too much I just got back into things and started perfecting the little things and trying to but I still got a lot to work on like routes and crispness and stuff.”

2016 defensive back picks up first offer from SMU

By: Billy Embody

The SMU coaching staff made a stop at Richmond (Tex.) Bush to take a look at some players and came away impressed with 2016 defensive back Javian Smith to offer him.

“They came during my football period. I didn’t get to talk with the staff. We were practicing during our football period so I missed them,” Smith said. “He told me to call him tonight and I did and he offered me.”

Defensive coordinator Van Malone offered Smith and the two talked about his fit in the program and on the field.

“He offered me because I’m a good fit for their defense because they play man coverage and I’m good with my hands, tall and long and how I can run,” Smith said. “We talked about how they would love for me to come and visit and how he’d love for me to come there and be a good asset and work well with the team.”

The 6-1, 165-pound defensive back said the offer was, “out of the blue,” but he’s excited to learn more about the offer.

“I hope to learn more info when I visit the campus this summer,” Smith said.

As his first offer, Smith is on cloud-nine right now.

“I don’t even know. I’m just blessed. It’s my first offer and I’m overjoyed,” Smith said. “It means a lot. I’ve talked to a lot of schools, but none of them have offered. Considering SMU, that’s a good feeling. They’re in a great conference and they play good teams.”

Smith admits he doesn’t know too much about Chad Morris, but knows the new staff is changing the culture. A visit will be in the works soon so Smith can truly evaluate SMU.

“I plan on getting to know everything when I go down there for an unofficial and then when I probably go back down there for an official visit,” Smith said.

It’s early as in his recruitment, but staying in Texas is something Smith will definitely be considering.

“I’d like to stay close to my family and everything so yeah I’d like to stay in Texas,” Smith said.

Louisville, Tulsa, Kansas, TCU, UTEP and Nebraska are all showing interest in Smith. Smith has taken TCU and UTSA visits so far.

Manvel wide receiver visits for SMU’s spring game

By: Patrick Engel

A full recruit section took in SMU’s spring game last weekend, and 2016 Manvel (Tex.) wide receiver Hunter Hagdorn was among those in attendance. Hagdorn visited for SMU’s February junior day and liked it so much that he had to make a return trip.

“I just enjoyed being back up there with the coaches, being back in Dallas,” Hagdorn said. “It just feels like home up there, and it was cool to see the team in action.”

Hagdorn has kept in contact with SMU since the first junior day, and says that the staff will be down to visit Manvel at least once during the spring evaluation period.

“I’ve been in contact with the coaches since junior day and into spring, and I know a coach is coming down to school in the coming weeks,” Hagdorn said. ‘I’ve talked to coach (Joe) Craddock, the OC, and (linebackers) coach (Archie) McDaniel, who’s the recruiter for my area. He’ll be the first one to come down. Then coach (Justin) Stepp, the receivers coach, and coach Craddock might show up.”

The coaching staff is a big reason why Hagdorn made the four hour trip to SMU for the second time in as many months. Even though he doesn’t have an offer from SMU yet, he really likes the vibes the staff gives him.

“They’re a real player-oriented coaching staff; they’re all about family,” Hagdorn said. “That’s really important to me, since I grew up in a household with the same values. To know that I’m going to go up there and have a family, and it’s a great school. It’s a place where players go up and it’s their second home. I just feel comfortable there with those coaches.”

Given Hagdorn’s affinity toward SMU, it’s no surprise he said SMU is among his top schools. He doesn’t have any offers yet, but has a solid list of schools he’s talking to.

“I really love (SMU’s) program as a whole, they have great values, they’re doing the right thing and they’re definitely in the top three,” Hagdorn said. “Maryland [ranks highly] for sure, and I’d like to get closer with UCLA, Arizona State and TCU.”

Hagdorn has visited TCU and USC this spring, although he wasn’t able to get to UCLA on the same trip. He said he wants to visit Maryland over the summer to see it for the first time. Oklahoma State, Louisiana Tech, Ari Force, Harvard, Louisiana-Lafayette and Colorado State have all reached out to him as well.

Hagdorn is 6-foot and 175 pounds.

2017 athlete gets first offer from SMU

By: Billy Embody

2017 Crosby athlete Manny Netherly grabbed his first offer from SMU when linebackers coach Archie McDaniel visited and extended the offer.

“I talked to coach McDaniel when I started working out. He said he wanted to offer me and that he’s wanting me at SMU,” Netherly said. “He asked if I was interested in them and told me to keep in touch and call him once a week to let him know how football is going.”

The fact that SMU offered first is a big deal for the talented athlete.

“I’m excited. I was very excited yesterday when he told me,” the 6-3, 170-pound athlete said. “It’s a big day. I wanted to go to SMU and just for them to offer me was a big deal. It’ll make me work harder.”

Texas A&M, Texas, TCU and Kansas State have been showing interest as well in Netherly.

Netherly hasn’t visited SMU yet, but is trying to visit as soon as possible to build relationships with the staff.

“I don’t know too much about the new head coach, but I know about coach McDaniel and he’s a nice guy. I really liked him when I met him yesterday.”

On the field, Netherly is learning to play receiver and quarterback right now, but he’s taking the new role as quarterback in stride because he can contribute in SMU’s offense in multiple ways.

“I was just in shock when they offered me. I really like the offer though,” Netherly said. “I like the offense that they run for a fact. If I go there for receiver, I know the offense can get receivers out there and even if I go for quarterback, that’s still good.”

Netherly is focused on improving his footwork and speed for receiver, but was also forced into double duty at quarterback last year so he’s got a lot on his plate to work on as he develops in the next couple years.

Local defensive back talks SMU spring game

By: Billy Embody

2016 Prestonwood Christian defensive back Ray Goff had visited SMU when the previous staff was in place, but said it’s a new story with SMU’s new staff led by Chad Morris.

“I liked it. I like the coaches and building the program around coach Chad Morris and the new direction that they’re headed,” Goff said. “It’s way different than previous years so I like that too.”

Before the game, Goff got to talk with SMU defensive coordinator Van Malone and defensive backs coach Jess Loepp.

“We got there a little early so me and Deonte talked to them for quite a bit of time. They were great coaches,” Goff said. “They’re going to put the defense on a whole new level this year and I feel like recruiting wise, they like me and saw my film. Hopefully, they’ll offer me in the spring or they’ll come back after my season, but I like the coaches.”

The defense came out on top in the spring game and Goff was impressed with how everyone looked.

“The defense looked good. The renegade, which Deonte plays, looked pretty good. The corners and safeties looked pretty good too. I can see myself out there definitely though.”

The biggest difference from Goff’s previous visits to SMU is the family feel.

“I just noticed it was a real family environment. Coach Malone told me if you remember one thing from today it’s that we are a family program and I like that,” the 5-9, 165-pound defensive back said. “It’s down the street from my house and they’re bringing the family environment to that.”

Goff and teammate Deonte Williams visited together and Williams, who has an SMU offer, was also impressed by the spring game.

“Me and Deonte want to go to the same college together. He liked SMU. He feels like they had a good defense. He loved the coaches as well,” Goff said. “He really liked it and I really liked it. Hopefully in the future, we can get something going.”

To be able to play for his hometown program would be huge for Goff.

“To play for SMU would be a huge accomplishment because playing for my city would be huge. I think we should get all the Dallas kids to SMU so we can build the program up,” Goff said. “Like coach Loepp said, they don’t want anyone to leave Texas and I agree with him.”

During the spring and summer, Goff is training with his cousin, Denver Broncos defensive back Chris Harris, Jr. in an effort to show coaches what he can do.

“I just want to show all the coaches that I’m a physical DB. I can play press or play off,” Goff said. “I just want to show them that I work on my craft daily and when I’m on the field, my technique is one of the best.”

For his sophomore and junior year, Goff made All-District at Prosper, but without any playoff time, Goff felt it was hurting his recruitment. He transferred to Prestonwood so he could get more exposure and get a great education.

Kansas, Tulsa, Rice, Army and Navy have all been showing interest in Goff. Baylor, TCU, Tulsa and Rice have all gotten visits from Goff so far.

Manvel athlete hoping for first offer

By: Scott Sanford

The recruits were out in force at the SMU spring game last Saturday, which included 2016 Manvel (Tex.) athlete Sean Dykes.

The 6-foot-1, 212-pound Dykes, who plays receiver at Manvel, enjoyed his time at Ford Stadium whiling taking in the spring game and talking with the coaches.

“I liked the atmosphere. I liked the spread offense. I liked the fan support,” Dykes said. “I really liked the environment in Dallas.”

The rising senior also got to tour the football facilities and the campus on his junior day visit, and has high hopes for the renovations.

“(The facilities) were looking kind of old, but Morris was explaining to us that they’re going to have it up and running and it’s going to be more like a Big 12 school,” Dykes said. “It’s a beautiful campus though. I loved the gold plaque that you aren’t supposed to walk on until you graduate (in Dallas Hall).”

Dykes only got to briefly speak with head coach Chad Morris, but he also had the chance to talk with linebackers coach Archie McDaniel and wide receivers coach Justin Stepp.

“Coach Stepp told me he was going to be down in Manvel sometime to check me out,” Dykes said. “I think (the coaching staff) is young—I remember junior day—they like to have fun. They bring a lot of energy and they’d be fun to play for.”

Dykes does not currently hold any offers, but he is receiving interest from SMU, Texas, Maryland, UCLA, Kansas, Texas State, Houston.

Dykes doesn’t know where his first offer might come from, but SMU and others could pull the trigger following Manvel’s spring practices.

“When I talked to Archie McDaniel he said that they still want me, but they want to come see me in the spring and have me up for a camp to see exactly what they want to offer me as,” Dykes explained. “A lot of coaches have said that they need to see me in the spring coming off my broken foot.”

The wideout suffered a broken foot following his sophomore season, which held him out of spring and summer activities, plus the first two games of his junior season.

Dykes is fully recovered now, and hopes to prove his worth to the coaches that visit him in the coming weeks.

“For the time we lost to Katy to now, I’ve been doing track workouts to get my speed up,” Dykes said. “Other than that, I’ve just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing.”

As Dykes begins to pick up offers, he hopes to visit the schools he does get offered by, and he also hopes to make a commitment before the first game of his senior season.

2016 offensive lineman takes in SMU spring game

By: Andrew Hattersley

2016 Lutheran South Academy HS (Tex.) tackle Colton Williams visited SMU for the second time in as many weeks with his friend and SMU commit Joshua Shelmire. Williams loved the opportunity to follow up with the coaches after talking to them a couple weeks before.

“I liked it a lot, I had actually been there before for spring practice, so I already got to talk to the coaches and meet some of the players so it was good to come back for the game,” Williams said.

One aspect of the coaching staff that has the 6-4, 295-pound lineman so excited is the environment being created by this new coaching staff and the excitement they have about rebuilding the program.

“I think it’s awesome, they’re all very enthusiastic, very excited about what they’re doing, you can tell they’re all very committed to what they’re doing and building the program so its very exciting to see how excited they are as a football team,” Williams said.

Williams did get to campus a little early and was able to tour the campus a little bit before the game as well after not getting the chance to see as much the first time.

“They’ve got awesome facilities I got to tour a little beforehand and seeing all the facilities, very nice campus, I just love the campus,” Williams said.

Although Williams does not have any offers, he has heard from Texas State, Houston, Baylor, Northwestern, Rice, and some Ivy League schools, as well as, SMU.

Despite being from Texas, Williams says it is not essential for him that he stay in Texas although that would certainly be a nice bonus for him.

“I’d like to play in Texas but I’m not opposed to going out of state at all, it’s about who wants me is where I want to go,” Williams said.

It will not be long before the Lutheran South tackle is back at SMU once again. He will be in town for one of SMU’s summer camps and will also get the chance to talk to coach Wyatt again next week.

“I know I plan on going to the camp in the summer, coach Wyatt is coming down here to our school in about a week or two so I get to talk to him more about it,” Williams said, “The other thing is my friend Joshua Shelmire, was their first commit so he’s been talking to SMU and likes it a lot and then I’ll be talking to coach Wyatt in a couple of weeks.”

According to Williams, Shelmire has spoke often with him about SMU and just how happy he is to be a future Mustang.

“He’s talked about it and how much he loves it, he committed right on junior day, right on the spot so I knew how much it impacted him and how much he liked it,” Williams said, “He’s told me how much he likes it and how he’s excited to see how the team grows and he’s excited to be a part of it.”

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