NCF On The Trail: Myles Garrett

Video: Comparing Garrett to Clowney

March, 3, 2014
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National recruiting analyst Craig Haubert explains the ways in which Texas A&M signee Myles Garrett resembles NFL draft prospect Jadeveon Clowney on the field.

Top overall position classes in 2014 

February, 21, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at which programs compiled the nation's best overall position classes in 2014. For the full top position classes series, click here.

Quarterbacks: Florida
The Florida Gators had a major need at quarterback in the Class of 2014, and Will Muschamp and staff more than filled it, signing two of the nation’s top signal-callers. Third-ranked dual-threat prospect Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day School) is already on campus and preparing for spring practice, while No. 7 dual-threat prospect Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) was a huge signing-day flip from Florida State. Both prospects are great athletes who are accustomed to operating up-tempo offenses. This should also help newly hired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who will install a similar scheme in Gainesville.

Top position classes: DL 

February, 14, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
Texas A&M went into the 2014 class knowing that size and athleticism was an absolute must on its defensive front. And Kevin Sumlin and staff delivered on those glaring needs. Leading the way is No. 1 defensive end and five-star player Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin), who has the size, speed and power combination to be a difference-maker early on next fall. The 6-foot-5, 247-pound Garrett is joined at defensive end by ESPN 300 No. 203 Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), and high three-star Jarrett Johnson (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes), who has a nonstop motor. While the Aggies have some talented young defensive tackles, continuing to add size and athleticism to the interior was a must. No. 150 DeShawn Washington (Nederland, Texas/Nederland) and four-star early enrollee Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) add disruptive explosiveness and athleticism.

The Aggies had the nation’s best defensive line class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:


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Recruiting hits and misses: SEC West

February, 6, 2014
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Now that the fax machines are quiet, the 2014 signing classes have been announced and before we start looking ahead to 2015, let's take a moment to examine how each of the SEC schools did in filling immediate needs via recruiting.

We're checking out what all 14 teams did to fill holes, and we're looking at which holes still remain. We'll start with the SEC West (click here for the SEC East):

ALABAMA

Needs filled: It was obvious Alabama needed help at cornerback, and the Crimson Tide went out and got two of the best in the country in five-star prospects Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey. Pass rushers were also a priority, which makes five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and four-star outside linebackers Rashaan Evans and Christian Miller key pickups. Cameron Robinson, yet another five-star prospect, could end up starting at left tackle next season on the offensive line.

Holes remaining: The Crimson Tide could have used another marquee receiver and lost out on No. 1 wideout Malachi Dupre to LSU. With Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri both heading early to the NFL, the Tide also might have come up short at safety.

ARKANSAS

Needs filled: The Hogs’ passing game was in need of a jump-start, and getting an ESPN 300 player out of Miami the caliber of JoJo Robinson adds another playmaker to the equation. Arkansas’ offensive line class is equally impressive with four-star prospects Brian Wallace and Frank Ragnow and three-star prospect Jovan Pruitt joining Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper from last year’s class.

Holes remaining: The highest-ranked player in the Hogs’ class was defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson of El Dorado, Ark., which was big considering they need help everywhere on defense. But they missed out on a pair of highly ranked defensive ends in Solomon Thomas and Demetrius Jackson.

AUBURN

Needs filled: Gus Malzahn called ESPN 300 prospect Tre' Williams the key to the class, and he should provide an immediate boost at linebacker. With Chris Davis departing, the Tigers also needed to replenish at cornerback, which is where four-star prospects Kalvaraz Bessent and Stephen Roberts come in. Both were ranked in the top 10 nationally at their position. With Greg Robinson leaving early for the NFL draft, it was good to add muscle on the offensive line with ESPN 300 prospect Braden Smith, who could play guard or tackle.

Holes remaining: The sting of losing Evans, who’s from Auburn, to Alabama could be felt for a while. He's the kind of explosive athlete who would fit on any defense, and the Tigers need more of those guys, particularly at linebacker.

LSU

Needs filled: The loss of running back Jeremy Hill early to the NFL draft was lessened by landing Leonard Fournette, the No. 1 overall prospect in this class. It only got better for the Tigers’ offense on signing day when the country’s No. 1 receiver, Dupre, said he would play his college football on the Bayou. Safety was a real sore spot on defense last season, so getting ESPN 300 prospect Jamal Adams was a major pickup. Adams is rated by ESPN RecruitingNation as the No. 2 safety in the 2014 class.

Holes remaining: Robinson would have been a nice centerpiece on that LSU offensive line, but Alabama came into West Monroe, La., and swiped the five-star prospect. The Tigers also lost five-star athlete Speedy Noil of New Orleans to Texas A&M.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Needs filled: Junior college signee Jocquell Johnson is already on campus and will battle for a starting job next season on an offensive line that’s losing two starters, including All-SEC guard Gabe Jackson. The Bulldogs also added a pair of playmakers at receiver in ESPN 300 prospects Jamoral Graham and Jesse Jackson. Flipping 6-foot-6, 265-pound defensive lineman Cory Thomas from Tennessee on signing day added some more punch to an already deep and talented defensive line in Starkville.

Holes remaining: More secondary help would have been nice, which is why losing cornerback Tee Shepard to Ole Miss on signing day was a downer. A couple of the offensive linemen the Bulldogs wanted, Jordan Sims and Sean Rawlings, also opted for Ole Miss.

OLE MISS

Needs filled: The Rebels wanted to continue to stockpile talent on the offensive line after reeling in Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson a year ago and did that with four-star prospects Rod Taylor, Tyler Putman and Sims. Upgrading the defense was also a priority, which is why beating Alabama for ESPN 300 safety C.J. Hampton was so important along with getting ESPN 300 defensive end Garrald McDowell out of Louisiana. Flipping junior college cornerback Shepard from Mississippi State was a nice signing day coup.

Holes remaining: You can never have enough defensive linemen in the SEC, so losing defensive tackle Michael Sawyers to Tennessee was a blow. The same goes for ESPN 300 defensive end Davon Godchaux, who stuck with his commitment and signed with LSU.

TEXAS A&M

Needs filled: With Johnny Manziel taking his show to the NFL, Texas A&M has to find a quarterback. Early enrollee Kyle Allen is an ESPN 300 prospect and ranked as the No. 1 pocket passer in this class. Noil, another early enrollee, should help fill a void with big-play receiver Mike Evans headed to the NFL, and the Aggies also loaded up on offensive linemen, including a pair of junior college signees. Any help on defense was a priority, which makes five-star defensive end Myles Garrett one of the keys to the class.

Holes remaining: The Aggies are still thin at safety after swinging and missing on several of their top targets in this class, including Adams, Steven Parker II and Mattrell McGraw. They also had ESPN 300 safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner committed but lost him to Boise State when Marcel Yates took the defensive coordinator job there.

Ultimate ESPN 300: Future members 

January, 29, 2014
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It’s never too early to look ahead to next year. Here are five current prospects in the 2014 class we feel could make their mark in future editions of the Ultimate ESPN 300.

RB Leonard Fournette (LSU): It’s not just based on the fact that he’s the top-rated player in the ESPN 300, but rather the perfect blend of talent, need and fit that awaits him at LSU. Fournette is an ideal downhill back for LSU's system. He is physically ready to carry the load and should have an immediate chance to make an impression with the Tigers' lack of depth in the backfield.


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#AskLoogs: Aggies 'building' on D

January, 24, 2014
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.



Well, Texas A&M is not in a reloading mode yet. The Aggies are in "building" mode right now on defense.

This was a program that relied heavily on two freshmen along the defensive front in 2013 with defensive end Daeshon Hall and defensive tackle Isaiah Golden. This was not the positon coach Kevin Sumlin would have preferred to be in with these guys. In the 2014 class the Aggies currently have five defensive lineman committed, including No. 1-ranked DE Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin), so depth and an upgrade in talent are being built in College Station. There is no magic wand to wave, however, to speed up the process. Sumlin knows that in the SEC high-powered offenses will only take teams so far. It’s similar to Bobby Petrino while at Arkansas. The good news is that Texas A&M has the ability to lure top-flight defensive personnel along the front and Arkansas couldn’t. The Aggies' defense is in development and they need to grow up fast as breaking in a new offense next fall will mean that the defense is going to have to be better. In order for Texas A&M to truly be a championship contender, it will have to improve greatly on defense which is why last year’s class and this year’s class have been heavy on that side of the ball.

Shifting power: Texas 

January, 23, 2014
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Texas A&M has gone through and overcome a major case of the “you can’ts.”

You can’t leave the Big 12 and compete in the SEC.

You can’t win with Kevin Sumlin, a coach off a successful stint at Houston in mid-major conference play.

You can’t outrecruit your archrival Texas. You can’t win. Period.

For every negative critique, Texas A&M has managed to silence the doubters. With everything positive that’s happened with the Aggies the last two seasons, this year’s recruiting class may be the biggest accolade next to winning back-to-back bowl games under Sumlin. With 21 commits – including 10 ESPN 300 players -- Texas A&M has the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation, just behind Alabama.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 6, 2014
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College football recruiting is currently in a dead period, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a ton of recruiting news around the SEC. There were several commitments during the Under Armour and U.S. Army Bowl All-America games, including the top player in the country, Leonard Fournette, announcing his decision. There were also some decommitments and new, important offers were handed out. Here’s the latest news around the SEC.

SEC schools land big commitments: There was a flurry of commitments during and after the All-American games this weekend. SEC schools landed commitments from eight different players during the Under Armour All-America game and the U.S. Army Bowl. Here’s a closer look at who committed where. All eight players were ranked in the top 150 players of the ESPN 300.

RB Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) -- Committed to LSU over Alabama and Texas.
DT Gerald WIllis III (New Orleans/Edna Karr) -- Committed to Florida over LSU and Alabama.
S Laurence “Hootie” Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) -- Committed to Alabama over LSU and Ole Miss.
ATH Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) -- Committed to Texas A&M over LSU.
WR Frank Iheanacho (Houston/Westside) -- Committed to Texas A&M over Missouri, LSU, Oregon and Arkansas.
OL Brian Wallace (Saint Louis/Christian Brothers College HS) -- Committed to Arkansas over Alabama and Missouri.
S Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) -- Committed to LSU over Florida.
DB Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas) -- Committed to Alabama over LSU.


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The practices are in the books and now is the time for the nation’s top prospects to showcase their skills under the bright lights of the Under Armour All-America game (4 p.m. Thursday, ESPN). With an outstanding collection of talent taking the field, it can be easy to feel a football sensory overload. No matter where you look, you will see a promising prospect in action, but to help guide your focus, we put together a few viewing tips. You can’t go wrong wherever your eyes take you on the field, but the following could be a good place to start.

If you want to know where next year's top college freshmen will play …


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The 2014 Under Armour All-America game week has arrived, and the collection of talent is outstanding, with a roster that consists of nearly 90 ESPN 300 prospects, including 13 five-star recruits.

Throughout the week there will be plenty of electrifying plays and great battles. Below are some of the matchups to keep an eye on during the practices and the game (Jan. 2, ESPN, 4 p.m. ET).

OT Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La.) vs. DE Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin)
Robinson and Garrett are the top-rated players at their respective positions and among the top five nationally, setting the stage for some great battles throughout the week of practice. With both possessing prototypical measurables for their positions, the tale of the tape portrays a heavyweight-like showdown.

In Robinson, you have a nimble big man capable of protecting the edge. The Alabama verbal can set quickly with knee bend, get hands on and mirror rushers. He also displays some nastiness and a competitive nature. In Garrett, you have a defender with an impressive combination of size, initial quickness and athleticism. As a pass-rusher, the Texas A&M verbal possesses the ability to attack blockers in multiple ways and keep them guessing. When these two line up across from each other, neither will be able to rely on his size and natural ability alone. Robinson will need to be sound in technique, and Garrett will need to have a plan. Both will need to bring their A-games.

WR Ermon Lane (Miami/Homestead) vs. CB Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen)
Players at these two positions often are challenged the least during their high school careers; they are often the best skilled athlete on the field and can get away with being undisciplined or taking chances because they compensate by being athletically superior. Brown and Lane are going to find out what they are made of in one-on-one situations, because the defenses will be in man coverage the entire week. In 2008, Janoris Jenkins and Julio Jones matched up on the first day of practice, and Jones got stunned for the first few reps. That relationship created an incredibly competitive environment.

When I think of competitive, Tony Brown comes to mind. He also will be confident. Lane must bring his best stuff and use his size and strength to make plays in tight quarters. It is always fun to see who sinks and who swims. When you get beat, do you sulk and go in the tank or do you rise up and play the next down? Something tells me these two will battle in quite a few contested matchups during the week.

OG Ross Pierschbacher (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls) vs. DT Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, Va./Frommel Smith)
With a wealth of talent along the offensive and defensive lines, the trenches will provide some great matchups all week. A great battle to watch inside will be between No. 1 defensive tackle Brown and top-rated guard Pierschbacher. Brown, who is committed to Virginia, is an explosive player capable of being a handful as a pass-rusher, while Alabama verbal Pierschbacher can be a tenacious blocker. Working around Pierschbacher could be tough, as he can set quickly and move easily laterally, though with a nice combination of size and power, Brown could challenge Pierschbacher with his bull rush.

DE Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington) vs. OT Jamarco Jones (Chicago/De La Salle Institute
In a class that features very few true pass-rushers but several topflight run-stoppers, DE Chad Thomas likely will stand out in one-on-one situations. He will be one of the best natural pass-rushers in the 2014 Under Armour All-America game. Conversely, Jamarco Jones is one of the more athletic big men in attendance, but as with most young offensive tackles, he can be raw and technically unrefined. This is where the offense is at a distinct disadvantage. Thomas will be able to pin his ears back and go with an athletic edge between the two. Jones will have to pay close attention to his feet, balance, bend and lateral agility to hold up against Thomas' speed and explosive first step. However, where Jones can shut down Thomas is by using his strength and getting his hands on Thomas quickly. Thomas is undersized and lacks lower-body strength, which Jones must take advantage of to try to frustrate Thomas off the edge.

ATH Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) vs. CB Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic)
When the paths of these two five-stars cross at the UA game, it will be a meeting of players with outstanding athleticism. Both could line up at multiple positions and have an impact, but No. 1 CB Peppers will be roaming the secondary, while top-rated athlete Noil will be lining up at receiver. Peppers is a fluid athlete with good size and great speed and can be a lockdown corner.

With Noil, the name Speedy pretty much sums it up, as the kid can fly. He fills multiple roles for his high school and thus is still a bit limited in experience at receiver, but he possesses soft hands and is a talented athlete with a bit of a natural feel for the position. If he isn't sharp in his route running, creating separation against Peppers could be tough, but if Noil can get his hands on the ball, he can be very dangerous in the open field. These are two playmakers capable of bringing out the best in each other and providing an exciting matchup.

QB-PP Morgan Mahalak (Kentfield, Calif./Marin Catholic) vs. Defensive secondary
Unfortunately, we have had four of our six Under Armour All-America game quarterbacks go down with injuries this fall. The bright side is that this provides opportunities for other worthy signal-callers, including Mahalak. We chose Mahalak vs. the entire secondary because this is going to be a significant jump in talent and speed for him when it comes to timing, anticipation and accuracy. In fact, this will be the biggest adjustment for all the quarterbacks.

Mahalak is a wonderful athlete and an instinctive player who spent time as a wide receiver and kick returner before becoming a full-time quarterback as a senior. But he actually hasn't played all that much, since he played on a dominant team that rarely gave him many snaps after halftime of games. The likes of J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee), Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) and S Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), among others, will provide a great measuring stick for Mahalak and all the quarterbacks.

TE Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian) vs. S Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron)
Both rated No. 3 at their respective positions, these two could make for some hard-fought battles in practice. Adams plays smart, fast and physical, and making plays against this top-25 prospect can be tough for any target, including Blazevich. While getting open against the talented safety will be challenging, Blazevich still can present a tough matchup. The Georgia commit has the size advantage, which can allow him to make the play in jump-ball situations. He has strong hands and good body control to adjust to passes, and even when covered he still can make the grab. Lastly, while he might not be able to run away from Adams, he displays some savvy as a route runner that could help him to create separation at times.

WR Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) vs. CB Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
This is a matchup of perhaps the best route runner and set of ball skills (Rudolph) against the best pure cover corner when it comes to explosive quickness (Jackson) this game has to offer. Rudolph is a technician when it comes to route running. He consistently understands leverage, attacks alignment, eats up cushion, stays low and perhaps most important snaps his head around to be prepared for the football. As expected, this will force Jackson to employ the same level of discipline in man coverage, as he will not be able to rely solely on his superior skill set. Rudolph is really skilled at creating separation, and Jackson has proved he can close the gap. Something has to give. One thing is for sure, Jackson's coverage likely will be in place, but can he make plays on the ball against a player who relishes contested matchups? This is going to be a fun one-on-one to watch.

SEC signing day storylines 

December, 17, 2013
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With signing day 50 short days away, several questions remain in the SEC. Here's a look at the top storylines as signing day quickly approaches.


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Top five defensive end comparisons 

November, 7, 2013
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As each and every new evaluation period begins for our staff, we always try to use today’s college football stars and apply some of their best traits when describing the next generation of prospects. All prospects are different from one another, but many share similar characteristics that stand out in relation to their styles. In this edition of the series, we take a look at the top five defensive ends in the 2014 class and which college players they remind us of at this time.

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Big 12 ESPN 300 analysis 

October, 29, 2013
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With the release of the latest ESPN 300, some players saw jumps while others took slight falls. And then there were some, such as one particular Houston wide receiver still looking to make a name for himself as a varsity football player, who saw their rankings skyrocket.

Here’s an update on some of the highs and lows of players either committed to, targeted by or living near Big 12 programs:

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SEC ESPN 300 analysis 

October, 29, 2013
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Several SEC targets and commits made big moves in the updated ESPN 300 rankings. Georgia had two commits make big jumps, while Tennessee didn't fare as well. Could the SEC make a huge splash in the top 10 of the rankings? Here's a closer look at what the new ESPN 300 means in the SEC.

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ESPN 300 DE Cunningham headed to A&M

October, 24, 2013
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While Texas A&M's current defense continues to take its lumps, it's future defense is looking better by the day.

The Aggies landed their third commitment in less than a week when ESPN 300 defensive end Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) jumped on board, committing to the Aggies on Thursday night.

Cunningham, the No. 234 prospect in the ESPN 300, is the second defensive end and third defensive lineman since Oct. 18 to commit to Texas A&M. ESPN 300 defensive end Myles Garrett, the No. 7 player in the country and No. 2 defensive end, started the chain reaction.

On Monday, it was a 2015 prospect -- ESPN Junior 300 defensive tackle Daylon Mack -- who pledged to the Aggies.

"I've been thinking about it a lot, and I had my list narrowed down to schools I felt comfortable with," Cunningham said. "It just seemed like the best situation for me, individually, being able to play in the SEC. It's a great school, and I'm really excited for it."

Cunningham is a longtime Texas A&M target and a legacy. His father, Rick Cunningham, played offensive line for Texas A&M in the late 1980s, was a fourth-round pick in the 1990 NFL draft and played eight seasons in the league. Rick was actually a roommate of former Texas A&M defensive lineman Terry Price, the Aggies' current defensive line coach and lead recruiter for Qualen.

"Coach Price has always been real since day one," Qualen said. "He was a roommate of my pops back in college. Coach Price and I became really, really cool."

Qualen took a visit to Texas A&M in March for the Maroon-and-White spring football game and also in September, the weekend the Aggies hosted Alabama.

"The Bama game gave me a chance to see how live competition is and how the '12th Man' is," Cunningham said. "The fan support is amazing down at A&M. The hospitality that I got in Texas was great. It felt right."

He is the 16th commitment in the Aggies' 2014 class and the ninth that projects to play on the defensive side of the ball. Loading up on the defensive line is particularly notable for the Aggies, who currently are 118th in the country in total defense and 112th in the nation in rushing defense.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Cunningham is a four-star prospect who possessed double-digit scholarship offers, including offers from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington, as well as home-state schools Arizona and Arizona State.

He's the third defensive end in the Aggies' 2014 class, joining Garrett and Katy (Texas) Seven Lakes defensive end Jarrett Johnson. There are four defensive linemen in the Aggies' class, including ESPN 300 defensive tackle DeShawn Washington (Nederland, Texas/Nederland).

"It's definitely a factor, but I'm confident in my abilities," Cunningham said. "I know the players that are going to be on the field are going to be the best players. I just have to step up and compete, and at the end of the day, that's all it's about."

The Aggies, who had the No. 9 class in the country coming into Thursday, hold 11 commitments from ESPN 300 prospects. Cunningham is the country's 22nd-ranked defensive end.

"I'm just glad I finally got to pull the trigger," Cunningham said. "It feels good."

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