Texas Longhorns: Sheroid Evans

Before Texas begins its first season under Charlie Strong, we're taking a deep dive into all the talent he inherits in 2014. Our Burnt Orange Breakdown series will take a closer look at each scholarship player returning this fall and what we can expect from him. We're going down the roster from No. 1 Shiro Davis all the way to No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 29 Sheroid Evans
Senior cornerback


Recruitment rewind: The four-star recruit from Sugar Land (Texas) Dulles committed to Texas on the spot when Mack Brown offered in February 2010 and joined Quandre Diggs, Leroy Scott and Mykkele Thompson to form one of the nation's top secondary classes in 2011. Evans also had the nation's fastest 200-meter dash time (20.82) and fourth-fastest 100-meter dash (10.39) in 2010.

Career so far: He hasn't had many opportunities to put that elite speed to use. A longtime backup, Evans has recorded 27 tackles in 27 games and has yet to earn a start. His best moment might have come in his first season, when he forced a fumble against Cal in the Holiday Bowl. Five games into 2013, Evans suffered a torn ACL. He was one game past the cutoff point for a medical redshirt and missed the entirety of spring practice during his recovery.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Evans gets not just 100 percent healthy, but better than ever. The most optimistic view of his final season in burnt orange would be one in which Evans makes some plays early on and becomes Texas' go-to guy in nickel coverage. If that ends up being the case, he could even push Duke Thomas out of the starting lineup or give Diggs the opportunity to sneak back into his nickelback role from time to time.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: One more year of relative anonymity. Diggs and Thomas will need help this fall, but that help could come primarily from Antwuan Davis, Bryson Echols or another defensive back depending on who rises to the occasion in August. If Evans has any more setbacks with his health, he'll have a hard time catching up to his peers after all this time missed.

Future expectations: If you knew nothing about his résumé at Texas and simply looked at Evans in his pads, you'd be awfully impressed. Great frame, long arms, incredible speed; he looks like the full package, and he's indeed one of college football's fastest players. Evans' breakthrough just hasn't come together yet, and last season's injury was a setback he couldn't afford. Now he has one final season to play up to the incredible promise he's shown as an athlete. Evans could be one of Texas' biggest surprises in 2014, but he has a ton of work to do between now and the opener to make that a reality.
AUSTIN, Texas -- We continue our five-to-watch series this week with a look at a group of Texas players who missed some or all of the spring but will be important cogs in 2014. In the interest of mixing it up, we’ll focus on five Longhorns not named David Ash.

1. LB Jordan Hicks

Ideally, it would make sense for Texas to roll into Big 12 play with Hicks and Steve Edmond patrolling the middle of the defense. Having those two holding it down gives you all sorts of options. But it requires a healthy Hicks.

The senior has played in just one conference game in the past two years, felled by freak injuries in back-to-back seasons. He’d like nothing more than to take out that frustration on opposing offenses in 2014.

He’ll be relied upon, too, to help Quandre Diggs and Cedric Reed lead this defense in the locker room. Coach Charlie Strong is optimistic that Hicks can return sometime in June, which would have him ready to go for fall camp in August.

That would be a boon for a defense that has sorely missed Hicks. After all the missed time of the past two seasons, who knows how good this defense could be if he’s on the field and at his best.

[+] EnlargeJohnathan Gray
David K Purdy/Getty ImagesJohnathan Gray's status come fall camp will be a hot topic in Austin.
2. RB Johnathan Gray

There will be consternation among Texas fans over how Gray should be utilized this fall.

Some will say he can team with Malcolm Brown to form one of the Big 12 and even one of the nation’s best rushing duos. Others will argue that, whether or not he’s 100 percent recovered from his torn Achilles, Gray should redshirt in 2014 and led Brown carry the load.

It’s an interesting conundrum for Strong and his staff as they construct their offense this offseason, and one that can be ignored for now with a wait-and-see approach. But we at least know what Gray can do.

Over a six-game stretch in the middle of last season, Gray rushed for 628 yards and four scores and was the workhorse of the post-Ash run-heavy attack. If he does return sometime next month, as Strong hopes, there will reason for hope that he can play in the opener.

Don’t underestimate this: Gray is an absolute freak of an athlete. Normal recovery times might not apply to him. Let’s see how he looks in August before making any predictions about his junior year.

3. CB Sheroid Evans

Evans’ time is coming. The junior cornerback showed serious promise entering the 2013 season and played in five games before being lost for the year to a torn ACL.

After sitting out the spring to recover, Evans should get thrown right back into the mix to serve as Texas’ nickel corner, a job that’s good for a lot of playing time against Big 12 spread offenses. Bryson Echols and Antwuan Davis should provide good competition, but Evans is too good to stay sidelined.

He’s got all the tools, especially with his long arms and track speed, to develop into a Big 12 starting corner. Just depends on how he recovers and how he responds to his two new position coaches.

4. RB Joe Bergeron

Bergeron was held out for the final weeks of spring practice for undisclosed reasons -- reportedly academic issues -- but Strong expects him to come back. And he’ll need him back.

Behind Brown, you have a bunch of questions at running back in addition to Gray’s injury. Jalen Overstreet remains an unproven former quarterback, and a trio of freshmen arrive this summer of varying readiness. It’s entirely possible all three redshirt.

That would leave Bergeron, a thumper of a power back with nearly 1,400 career rushing yards.

Fumbling issues put him in the doghouse for a while last season, but Bergeron can be a lot more than a goal-line back when playing at his best. And the guy still scored 16 TDs in 2012. Texas’ backfield needs him on board.

5. OG Kent Perkins

Might Perkins be able to find a starting job on this Texas offensive line? Shawn Watson might have hinted at that late in spring ball by acknowledging that the right tackle had moved inside to guard in practice.

But Perkins went down with a minor knee injury that required surgery at the start of April, a setback that raises questions about what he can provide this fall. He’s expected to be healthy for spring practice, and the former top-100 recruit should have a major role on this line regardless of whether he starts.

With veteran Sedrick Flowers fairly entrenched at left guard, it’s possible Perkins’ best shot at starting will be on the right side competing with Taylor Doyle and Rami Hammad. He proved in his only start last season he’s good enough to back up Kennedy Estelle at right tackle, too.

Injuries keep piling up for Longhorns

October, 7, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- In a no-excuses kind of season for Texas football, one fairly legitimate one is starting to emerge.

These Longhorns are, quite frankly, banged up. David Ash is certainly not the only injured player whose absence has ailed Texas in its 3-2 start to the season.

The quarterback's lingering concussion symptoms will keep him sidelined against Oklahoma, and if he returns to the lineup for the team's next game at TCU on Oct. 26, he will have missed more than full month of starts. But he's just one name on a long list of Longhorns who have dealt with injuries since fall camp began.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ash
George Frey/Getty ImagesQuarterback David Ash is one of several Texas players who have missed considerable time to injury.
"Still got a lot of injuries we have to overcome," Texas coach Mack Brown said last month, as the team entered Big 12 play. "Seem to be mounting on us. Doesn't matter. Part of the game."

That long list includes top linebacker Jordan Hicks, whose season is over after he suffered a ruptured Achilles against Kansas State last month. Texas lost another defender for the season last Thursday at Iowa State, when cornerback Sheroid Evans' potential breakout season was cut short by a torn ACL.

Then there are two of the most important cogs in the Texas offense: Receiver Mike Davis and receiver/running back Daje Johnson. Both gave it a go at ISU despite ankle injuries. The one Johnson suffered had kept him sidelined for nearly three full games.

Let's run down the list of players who've dealt with injuries since August, a list that may well be missing a name or two:
That doesn't include players with lingering injuries coming into the season. Former starting linebacker Demarco Cobbs and freshmen Deoundrei Davis and Erik Huhn continue to recover from knee injuries suffered a year ago, for example.

The list likely grows much longer, too, once you include players, such as running back Malcolm Brown, who are banged up but continue to play. Many of the aforementioned players have not missed games despite their ailments. But this does give a better indication of just how many Longhorns have recovered from injuries in the past two months or are still dealing with them.

To Texas' credit, its coaching staff and trainers have been transparent throughout these struggles. The school typically releases an injury report on the evening before game days and before kickoff. Many college coaches stubbornly treat this kind of information as classified, but Brown doesn't avoid questions about who's injured or how long a player will be sidelined.

What he can't answer is why this keeps happening to Texas. This offseason, he tried to dig up some possible explanations and solutions. But Texas doesn't practice any differently than its peers. There's nothing controversial about how the Longhorns train and lift. Often times, it's simply a matter of bad luck.

"We had a little bit of an injury bug early in the season," Walters said last week. "Hopefully that doesn't continue. I really think it gives some young guys an opportunity to step up and earn some trust from the coaches."

The burden has fallen primarily on second-year players. Sophomore Kennedy Estelle has filled in for Cochran at right tackle. Three members of his class are trying to fill the void left by Hicks at linebacker. Sanders and Johnson have stepped up at receiver, and Evans going down could mean more even work for sophomore starting corner Duke Thomas.

Brown talked up the amount of quality depth Texas has in the preseason. Now that talk is being put to the test, and Texas won't stand a chance against Oklahoma unless several of the fill-ins make major contributions.

While Brown has acknowledged the "perfect storm" of adversity that's shaken up his depth chart, he's not wasting any time griping about it. He knows that one thing hasn't changed: This is still a no-excuses season for the Longhorns, no matter who's on the mend.
AUSTIN, Texas -- If you understand how the Texas secondary operates, this is the best way to put it: Quandre Diggs is getting a promotion.

Texas' new depth chart made official on Monday what had been talked about all summer long. Diggs will move over from corner and start at nickel back, a decision that creates some interesting ripple effects for the rest of the Longhorns defense.

[+] EnlargeQuandre Diggs
John Albright/Icon SMIQuandre Diggs is "very excited" about the move to nickel back.
The 5-foot-10, 200-pound junior is being entrusted with a role that did wonders for the college careers of Earl Thomas, Aaron Williams and, last season, Kenny Vaccaro.

All three are cashing NFL paychecks these days, so from that standpoint, Diggs knows how helpful the move to nickel can be.

“I’m very excited about this position, don’t get me wrong. It’s a position that great players have played,” Diggs said. “It’s a big position in the game of football now, especially in the Big 12. Nickel defense is pretty much your base defense each and every week. I’m happy for the opportunity.”

In this conference, a trustworthy nickel back is a must. If defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s estimates are correct, Texas might’ve had five defensive backs on the field for 75 percent of its snaps last season.

So it only makes sense to put one of your secondary’s best assets in a role that’s more critical than ever. Diaz lauded Diggs’ ability to diagnose plays and make quick decisions, his experience playing man and zone, his confidence in covering the slot and how he’s a physical tackler.

“One of the rules is, the more instinctive of a player you are, the closer you want to line that guy up to the football,” Diaz said. “Certainly one thing Quandre has shown over the last two years is he has great instincts for playing the game. If you’re just playing pickup football, Quandre is a guy you want on your team.”

The former Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year has picked off eight passes and recorded 22 pass breakups in two seasons. Though he’ll still play corner in base defense, Diggs is excited by the possibility of making plays all over the field this fall.

“It plays a lot of different factors in the game,” Diggs said. “You get to blitz, you get to cover, you get to do all different type of stuff and disguises. It puts me closer to the line of scrimmage to go make more plays. That’s something I’m very, very excited about.”

To make this move, though, Diaz and secondary coach Duane Akina had to have faith in the cornerbacks who will step into Diggs’ role on the outside.

Duke Thomas has earned a major vote of confidence from players and coaches after an impressive three weeks of fall camp. Diggs wouldn’t be moving out of his usual gig if Thomas wasn’t ready.

“You have to believe what the film tells you,” Diaz said. “What the film says is that Duke is one of our best players. We’re not into playing favorites. We’ve got to play the guys that we think are the best, and Duke has earned that right.”

The sophomore was supposed to split time at receiver in camp but he was too talented to move away from corner. The rise of Thomas and Sheroid Evans in recent weeks created opportunities for creativity.

Diggs has been working in the nickel since bowl practices last December. He’s glad the challenges of the role will make him a more well-rounded defensive back.

As the brother of 12-year NFL cornerback Quentin Jammer, getting to the pros is of course in the back of Diggs’ mind. He knows a year of playing nickel will help get him where he wants to be.

But that NFL future isn’t something he pays much attention to these days. He’s got a new position to master first.

“It’s not my time to think about that,” Diggs said. “I’m a junior. I’ve just got to continue to go out and play and let my play do the talking.”

Rewind: Texas Longhorns fall camp

August, 12, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- After getting to watch six consecutive days of Texas practice, it’s safe to say we’ve taken plenty of notes. Here’s a look back at the superlatives of Texas’ first week of fall camp.

Best offensive performance: QB David Ash. He throws as pretty a ball as any Texas quarterback in the past, oh, 10 years, and on most days the incompletions were few and far between. Ash was sharp and made it all look easy. Nobody is questioning who the team’s top QB is this year.

Best defensive performance: CB Carrington Byndom. Granted, he wasn’t covering Texas’ top two wideouts, but Byndom provided lockdown coverage pretty much all week long. He played like a senior, with considerably more confidence.

David Ash
Max Olson/ESPNDavid Ash has shown his touch during passing drills but still needs to help Texas' offense pick up the pace.
Breakout player: WR Kendall Sanders. Several guys could earn this honor but Sanders thrived this week as the Longhorns’ top wideout with Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley sidelined with injuries. He could be in for a big sophomore season after catching two passes in 2012.

Best newcomer: OT Kent Perkins. Perkins jumped right into the second-team right tackle spot early in the week and probably would’ve stayed there had a sore shoulder not kept him out a few practices. He impressed his fellow linemen this summer and could have a solid role in 2013. Honorable mention goes to speedy receiver Jacorey Warrick and cornerback Antwuan Davis.

On the rise: CB Sheroid Evans. Quandre Diggs sitting out practice this week meant lots more work for Duke Thomas and Sheroid Evans, and both made a good impression. Evans, a 6-foot, 192-pound junior, snagged several interceptions during the week in 1-on-1 drills and could carve out a key role in Texas’ nickel defense.

Most improved: LB Steve Edmond. The middle linebacker is rebounding from his difficult 2012 season by shedding weight (from 260 pounds to 235), and the results have been positive. Edmond has made plays up the middle in 11-on-11 work and appears to have the edge over Dalton Santos for the starting job.

Fastest player: WR/RB Daje Johnson. We must tip our hats to Evans, a track athlete who probably is truly faster, but Johnson was practically a blur when running routes over the middle this week. His transition from running back to receiver has been a successful one thus far.

Biggest hit: S Adrian Colbert. The redshirt freshman popped tight end Greg Daniels hard Saturday night after he caught a ball over the middle, prompting the entire Texas secondary to run onto the practice field in celebration. The downside: Colbert probably would’ve been popped for a targeting penalty had it happened in a game this year.

Best position change: RB Jalen Overstreet. He’s still getting some work as the No. 3 quarterback, but Overstreet turned heads this week as a running back. He had little trouble adjusting to taking handoffs and showed he could be an explosive weapon as essentially an “athlete” for Texas this season.

Best position group: Running backs. Tough decision here. The RBs get credit here due to Overstreet’s rise and the new and improved Joe Bergeron. The junior back dropped from 240 pounds to 230 this offseason and looks quicker than ever but just as powerful.

Best depth: Offensive line. Thanks to Texas’ decision to practice with three separate offenses, we know the Longhorns have as many as 15 scholarship offensive linemen who could make the two-deep. Perkins and Rami Hammad worked with the No. 2 offense Saturday, and there’s the potential for more reshuffling in the next few weeks.

Top position battle: Wide receiver. The absence of Davis and Shipley meant lots of opportunity for everyone else. First-team reps went to Sanders, Marcus Johnson, Daje Johnson and Bryant Jackson, but Warrick, John Harris, Montrel Meander and Jake Oliver are all in the mix for playing time.

Biggest disappointment: Desmond Harrison’s absence. Texas’ junior college transfer hasn’t practiced since Monday due to an academic issue. Mack Brown has declined to disclose the specifics, but Texas officials believe it will be resolved soon. Still, it’s becoming a troubling development considering Harrison has a chance to be the team’s starting left tackle this fall.

Boldest quote: “Of course you’re mad about last year. You don’t want to be known as a soft defense. We’re taking the right steps to be a dominant defense. We want to be the most dominant defense in the world.” -- Safety Adrian Phillips

Biggest question: Tempo. Ash said Texas' offense will speed things up in the next few weeks after keeping the time between snaps to between 12-15 seconds this week. Just how fast will the final product look, and how well will Texas be executing it by Aug. 31?

Still wondering: We didn’t get much of a look at the Longhorn special teams this week, and it’s safe to say there are still unanswered questions with that unit. Could be some intriguing battles at placekicker and punter over the next few weeks with several participants: Nick Jordan, Anthony Fera, Nick Rose and William Russ.

Injury update: Exclude those who were already planning to be limited entering camp and you have to say Texas fared well. Byndom (head) and Josh Cochran (shoulder) were held out Saturday for precautionary reasons. All in all, there were no major injuries in week one. That’s a significant plus.
During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 29 Sheroid Evans
Junior cornerback


Question of the Week: Faith in Diaz 

June, 13, 2013
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At some point in Oregon State’s five-play, 47-yard drive, when all the plays were runs and yet another gap was missed by a linebacker, one had to wonder if things would ever change for the Texas defense under Manny Diaz.

That the defense briefly did change in the second half was more the result of a Herculean effort by one, now departed, senior, Alex Okafor, and a completely depleted Oregon State offensive line.

Now the time has come to see if Diaz, in his third season at Texas, will make any permanent changes to what was the worst defense in program history. He has lost his two most productive and best players, Okafor and Kenny Vaccaro. But he does return nine starters, including linebacker Jordan Hicks, who was injured in the third game last season. So there are some reasons for optimism. Texas coach Mack Brown pointed out that Diaz led a unit that ranked No. 11 in defense in 2011, and he didn’t forget how to coach.


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During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 23 Carrington Byndom
Senior cornerback



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AUSTIN, Texas -- Time and again over the past two years, Texas coach Mack Brown has been true to his word: The best players, no matter the age or experience level, will play.

That has led to 34 true freshmen -- the most in FBS -- hitting the field in the past two seasons. Texas’ hand was forced in some respects. It had to bridge a talent gap created by recruiting misses, particularly those in the 2009 class. Now, the result is that the gap has been somewhat plugged. Or, at the very least, there is a prevailing thought that field is full -- 19 starters return -- leaving little room for any of the true freshmen in the 2013 class to make a significant impact.


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Question of the Week: Let's talk trades 

May, 9, 2013
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Free agency might be a long way off from never in college football -- at least as far as players are concerned. Coaches, they come and go. Players stick.

But now the time has come to change all that, if only for a day and if only for the purposes of this week’s question of the week. With that in mind and those rules set, here then is the aforementioned question: If you, as Texas’ general manager, could trade for one player within the Big 12, who would it be? And who would you give up for that player?


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AUSTIN, Texas – Mack Brown isn’t quite sure what to do with Duke Thomas. Not just yet anyway.

"We will just have to look at it and probably play him both ways in the fall," the Texas coach said.


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Four downs: QB Swoopes is the future 

April, 3, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Is Swoopes the future?

By reading between the lines about the repetitions in Saturday's Orange-White scrimmage, it appears that freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes will have a package to fit around his unique skill set and size this season. But could he already be Texas' No. 2 signal-caller?

[+] EnlargeTyrone Swoopes
AP Photo/Eric GayFreshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes had fans talking after his performance in Texas' spring game.
If starter David Ash were to go down and miss time in the first game of the season, it's likely that Case McCoy would take over the role. But even that would likely only be until Swoopes' schooling could be accelerated to get him ready to play.

Swoopes is the future. I am still in the small group of people who believes a redshirt would be best for him, but that might not be an option when the Texas coaches look forward to 2014. Swoopes has already passed Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet, and it appears McCoy is just exhausting his eligibility as a backup.

That leaves Swoopes as the primary backup in 2014 and as the man his junior year for the Longhorns, assuming he doesn't redshirt this season. If the spring of 2013 is any indication, the future will be sooner rather than later for Swoopes.

Second down: DE Okafor taking some hits ...

Texas went through pro day last week and defensive end Alex Okafor has taken some hits. His strength, speed, explosiveness and even tactical awareness have been questioned.

I just don’t buy that. He is a football player. I have never been in the camp that he is going to be great, but I am in the camp that he can have a lengthy career in the NFL.

All things considered, that would be a really good career. It must be pretty hard for an All-American to get his career torn apart for a couple of months. I honestly hope he is not paying attention to the media at this point.

Third down: On the move ...

I will be the first to say it did not do a whole lot for me to hear that Duke Thomas might play both ways, but after watching him the spring game, I’m a believer. He caught the ball in traffic, ran fairly good routes and looked to have pretty solid ball skills.


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AUSTIN, Texas – Quandre Diggs wants to quell all the rumors.

"I feel like we can put those rumors to rest about me playing safety this spring because that’s not what I’m doing," said the junior defensive back. "I’m playing nickel and corner. I don’t have a problem playing safety, but that is not where I’m needed right now."

[+] EnlargeQuandre Diggs
AP Photo/Rogelio V. SolisThe Longhorns experimented with playing Quandre Diggs at safety but he's sticking at cornerback.
There was a thought back in December that -- with Kenny Vaccaro leaving and the remaining safeties underperforming throughout 2012 -- Texas could move Diggs to safety. He even took some reps at that spot in bowl practice. Texas appeared to be deeper at corner and therefore could afford to make the move.

But there has been steady improvement, and as a direct result much more faith, in returning safeties Adrian Phillips, Mykkele Thompson and Josh Turner. Phillips is expected to be the leader of that group and the one certain starter. Many of his problems in 2012 were pinned on a shoulder injury that hampered his development.

"I have a lot of faith in those three guys in safety so we can put those rumors to rest," Diggs said.

(Read full post)

Position breakdown: Defensive back 

February, 21, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Duane Akina will spend most of the spring mix and matching.

Given time, the Texas secondary coach likes to take his time before typecasting a certain player in a certain role. Ideally, Akina prefers to have every defensive back ready and able to play every role.

That versatility can not only cover up some deficiencies but also make the back four a stronger and more cohesive unit because every player understands the role to the player next to him seeing as how he has spent at least some time in that role.


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AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas heavily invested itself in special teams in 2012.

The Longhorns, however, saw few returns.

It was 81st in kickoff return defense. It was 37th in kickoff return yards, despite having an Olympian and another player, D.J. Monroe, with top-end speed.


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