2022 NFL Draft Profiles: Best Of The Rest From The Mountain West

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2022 NFL Draft Profiles: Best of the Rest From the Mountain West

These players may be long shots to hear their name called in the draft, but here’s what you need to know about what they could bring to the NFL.

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You never know who will get called.

2022 NFL Draft: The Best of the Rest of the Mountain West Prospects By School

Air Force | Boise State | Colorado State | Fresno State | Hawaii | Nevada | New Mexico | San Diego State | San Jose State | UNLV | Utah State | Wyoming

Lots of players across the Mountain West Conference decided to stick around for one last ride in college football, but many others beyond those who got the full draft profile treatment are in the mix to make the jump to the National Football League this week.

These “quick hits” will tell you a little bit about the best of the rest from the Mountain West.

Air Force

Wide receiver Brandon Lewis proved he could be just as potent as many of his predecessors, averaging a whopping 29.5 yards per catch in 2021, and he made a very strong final impression in the Falcons’ First Responder Bowl victory over Louisville. However, a relatively modest-for-his-size (5-8 1/2, 182 pounds) 4.51 40-yard time could mean he’ll have to prove his worth on special teams before

Linebacker Lakota Wills was a defensive anchor for three years, including the team’s 11-win campaign in 2019 (36 tackles, six TFLs, two sacks), but after taking a turnback in 2020 and dealing with injuries in 2021, the odds are he’s more of a fringe prospect when compared to others like Jordan Jackson.

Defensive back James Jones IV started nine games for the Falcons back in 2017 but lost ground on the depth chart when other up-and-comers like Tre Bugg III and Zane Kelly came through the program, which explains why he had just eight tackles for Air Force in 2021.

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Boise State

Long snapping isn’t the most glamorous occupation out there, but Daniel Cantrell held that position down for the Broncos since his redshirt freshman year in 2018, playing in every single game over the last four seasons. For any NFL looking at steady special teams hands, he should be worth a long look.

Kekaula Kaniho provided leadership, smarts, and production on the field from the nickelback spot, collecting 24.5 TFLs, six interceptions and four forced fumbles in his five-year tenure with the Broncos, but how that niche will translate to the NFL remains to be seen. That he also contributed on special teams, as well, should be a plus in many war rooms.

Offensive tackle Uso Osuji spent three years with Rice before transferring to the Broncos in 2020, but it really wasn’t until last year that he stepped into the breach when the Boise State offensive line was shuffling athletes around and did his part to contribute. According to Pro Football Focus, his 71.9 overall grade was actually a little better than peer John Ojukwu, so his size (6-6 3/8, 301 pounds) and length (85 1/2-inch wingspan, 98th percentile) could make him an intriguing project pick.

Jake Stetz was a busy man for the Broncos over the last two years, starting games at both guard positions and at center. He did his part to protect the quarterback last season with a 80.1 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, so if NFL teams determine that he’s fully recovered from a knee injury that derailed his final year last November, it wouldn’t be a shock if someone took a flyer on his versatility and strength with a late-round selection.

Wide receiver Octavius Evans never quite had the breakout for which fans hoped — his 34 catches for 409 yards last year were career best figures — but 10 1/4-inch hands and a 34-inch vertical at Boise State’s pro day could get him a shot at the next level.

Cyrus Habibi-Likio spent just one year with Boise State after transferring from Oregon, but he never really established himself as a reliable option at running back when George Holani was plagued by injuries. A 4.72 40-yard time probably isn’t going to cut it in the NFL, either, unless he can add a bit more strength to his 5-11, 219-pound frame.

Joel Velasquez served as Boise State’s punter for most of the last five seasons but, with a career average of just 40.9 yards per punt, there isn’t much to recommend him.

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Colorado State

Cameron Butler was Trey McBride’s tight end running mate in the latter part of his Rams career, but he also started 17 games between the 2017 and 2018 seasons and if teams decide to look past a medical history which includes injuries to his shoulder and Achilles, he could be worth a look as a H-back type contributor.

Cornerback Marshaun Cameron has experience playing both outside and in the slot, but he’s definitely on the smaller slot among this year’s prospects at the position (5-8, 189 pounds) and will need his tackling prowess to lead the way.

Manny Jones played as both a defensive end and a defensive tackle in his four years as a starter for the Rams. He was probably underappreciated throughout his entire tenure — according to Pro Football Focus, he never had an overall grade below 70 in five seasons — but he leaves Fort Collins as one of the most productive defenders in recent program history (13.5 sacks, 33 tackles for loss) and offers the kind of motor that could earn him an undrafted free agent deal.

Jordan Kress spent just one year with the Rams after transferring from conference rival New Mexico, but the former track star has speed you can’t teach and made himself a deep threat with it throughout his college career, averaging nearly 19 yards a catch in two years with the Lobos. While he isn’t the most physically imposing wide receiver in this year’s class (5-10, 195 pounds), his game speed and agility could be worth a roster spot in the long run.

Ross Reiter was a quiet contributor to Ryan Stonehouse’s successes as the Rams long snapper, a job he held for four years and for which he earned a nod on the Patrick Mannelly Award watch list in 2021. Teams interested in a special teams upgrade might consider bringing him along with Stonehouse as a tandem.

Logan Stewart did a little bit of everything in the Colorado State defensive backfield, though he spent most of his time at safety. A hard-hitting competitor who isn’t afraid to bet on himself, he has intriguing speed (1.54 10-yard split) and athleticism (34 1/2-inch vertical) that could make him a practice squad project worth refining.

After taking on a full-time starting role in 2018, Barry Wesley spent four seasons as a mainstay on the Rams offensive line, spending plenty of time at both tackle and guard. He definitely has the physical profile (6-6, 312 pounds) to play in the pros, but how quickly he can make adjustments against NFL speed will do a lot to determine how long he hangs around.

Linebacker Anthony Koclanakis transferred to Colorado State after two years at FCS Murray, earning a 2019 first-team all-OVC nod after picking up 120 tackles, but he never broke through with the Rams and is probably undersized (5-11, 219 pounds) and a touch too slow (4.82 40-yard time) as a NFL prospect.

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Fresno State

Alex Akingbulu helped the Bulldogs offense become as potent as it was last year by doing his part to keep Jake Haener on his feet. At 6-5 and 310 pounds, the first-team all-Mountain West offensive tackle hopes to defy skeptics and prove that previous health concerns, which derailed two seasons in 2017 and 2018, are a thing of the past.

The defensive line duo of Kevin Atkins and Kwami Jones never lit up the stat sheet, but the Bulldogs would never have won as much as they did without their contributions. Atkins has size on the macro (6-2, 314 pounds) and micro level (10 3/8-inch hands) and surprising athleticism (31.5-inch vertical) to match, so some analysts think he may get a look as a three-technique lineman, even if he has to go the UDFA route to do it.

Jones, meanwhile, may have more of an uphill battle to get his chance. At 6-1 and 251 pounds with a 10-yard split of just 1.77 seconds and a three-cone drill time above eight seconds at Fresno State’s pro day, he’ll have to hope his power (26 bench press reps) can carry the day.

Wide receiver Keric Wheatfall established himself as a big play threat after arriving at Fresno State from the junior college ranks, averaging 16.5 yards per catch in three seasons with the Bulldogs. He has the hops to keep doing just that in the NFL (35 1/2-inch vertical), but he’ll need everything he can get from that and his sideline prowess without the elite speed to match (4.56 40-yard time)

Tyson Maeva only spent a year with the Bulldogs after coming up with rival Boise State and then detouring to Florida International, but the linebacker provided a spark in the middle of the defense before an injury shuttered his 2021 campaign a few games early. He has good instincts for the position, though he may need to pitch in on special teams and prove he can stay healthy (injuries ended his 2020 season at FIU, too) to get an extended audition.

Juan Rodriguez didn’t get many opportunities to catch passes for the Bulldogs — he had just 22 receptions in three seasons — but don’t let that fool you into thinking he didn’t bring anything to the offense. Per Pro Football Focus, his 78.2 run-blocking grade in 2021 ranked 15th among FBS tight ends, so he may have a future in the NFL as a versatile H-back and special teams contributor.

Ryan Boehm, like Maeva, had just one year at Fresno State after transferring from FCS Cal Poly and pitched in as a role player for the Bulldogs. In 2021, he made three starts and chipped in with 24 tackles, 3.5 TFLs and 2.5 sacks, but the biggest concern is that he may not have the initial burst (1.79 10-yard split) to compete against blockers in the NFL.

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Hawaii

Many of the Warriors’ prospects this year come from their defensive backfield, not just Cortez Davis but also Eugene Ford, Colby Burton, Quentin Frazier, and Chima Azunna.

Frazier is an interesting prospect in that he spent his time as a starter in a linebacker/safety hybrid role, which gave him plenty of opportunity to step up as a run stopper (14 tackles for loss in the last two seasons) and play back in coverage. However, PFF saddled him with a 44.4 grade in that latter element of the game, suggesting there’s work left to be done, but with surprising athleticism (1.61 10-yard split, 34-inch vertical, 17 bench press reps) for his size (5-11, 196 pounds), someone could easily dream on his abilities as a safety for the long term.

Ford earned playing time right away as a freshman and ended up making seeing lots of reps on special teams and at both cornerback and safety, playing inside and outside over four years with the Warriors while becoming a team captain in the process. He may have underperformed a bit at Hawaii’s pro day by running a 4.9 40-yard dash, but any NFL team could use his intangibles and versatility.

Burton and Azunna, meanwhile, were role players who transferred to Hawaii from McNeese State and Iowa State, respectively. Burton didn’t run the 40-yard dash at Hawaii’s pro day but may be maxed out athletically (28.5-inch vertical, 8′ 10″ broad jump) already, but Azunna has an intriguing athletic profile (36.5-inch vertical at 5-11 and 211 pounds) that could get him a tryout as an undrafted free agent.

Hawaii also has a pair of offensive line prospects in this year’s draft class, Kohl Levao and Gene Pryor. Levao thrived as a starter in 2018 in Nick Rolovich’s run-and-shoot offense, but injuries shortened his 2019 season and derailed 2020 entirely. He stayed healthy last fall, however, and got back to demonstrating just what his 6-5, 326-pound frame was capable of by starting all but one game at center (he started at guard against Wyoming). In all, he made 31 starts at tackle, guard and center for the Warriors and has the kind of length (33 1/4-inch arms, 10 1/4-inch hands) that a savvy coach can build upon, so if he can pick up the pace of the NFL game, watch out.

Pryor, on the other hand, provided Hawaii with a different kind of stability by making more than 30 starts at right tackle. According to Pro Football Focus, he improved his overall grade in each of his four seasons with the Warriors, topping out at 74.9 in 2021, the fifth-best figure in the Mountain West. At 6-2 and 299 pounds, he may undersized as a tackle in the NFL, but as a self-defined hard worker with a quick first step and experience in pass protection, it isn’t out of the question that he could work out as a guard or center in the pros.

Finally, Djuan Matthews made six starts at defensive end for Hawaii last year, but also spent plenty of time on the interior, as well, over the past two seasons. At 5-10 and 250 pounds, however, he might be undersized at both positions for NFL scouts.

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Nevada

Harry Ballard III spent one year with the Wolf Pack after stops at Missouri and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but found opportunities hard to come by in a deep group of pass catchers, hauling in just six passes in eight games. The upside? He averaged 21.2 yards per catch and scored twice, burnishing a reputation as someone who could stretch the field; in 2019 at UAPB, he averaged 18 yards per catch. His straight line speed isn’t what you’d expect (4.61 40-yard time at Nevada’s pro day), but the results speak for themselves.

Punting in a conference that boasts Matt Araiza and Ryan Stonehouse feels like an unenviable task, but the left-footed Julian Diaz more than held his own: In two seasons as the Wolf Pack’s punter, he averaged 45.3 yards per punt. He also handled kickoffs and improved on that front from 2020 to 2021, as well, improving his touchback rate from 51.4% to 64.2% (second to Araiza among Mountain West specialists in both years). He doesn’t have the accolades of his more famous conference peers, but Diaz has the leg to compete if invited to a minicamp.

Lawson Hall grew into a leader off and on the field during his time with Nevada, spearheading the creation of a video in support of the Black Lives Matter movement back in 2020 and then earning a nod as team captain in 2021. In all, he was a three-year starter for the Wolf Pack who raised his game as a run stopper (15 tackles for loss in the last two years) and has the intangibles to be a positive influence and tone setter in the NFL.

If a NFL team is looking for big bodies to fill out the offensive line, Jermaine Ledbetter is a name to watch. Standing at 6-3 and 325 pounds, Ledbetter spent two years as a starter at guard for the Wolf Pack but may need to be mindful of being too big to play inside in the NFL. By contrast, Tyler Orsini might be too small (6-2, 295 pounds, 28 3/4-inch arms) to play center at the highest level; a 1.96 10-yard split at Nevada’s pro day probably doesn’t help, either.

Tristan Nichols was a breakout performer on Nevada’s defense in 2021, making the lives of opposing quarterbacks miserable week in and week out and finishing the year as one of just three Mountain West defenders with ten sacks. With an unrelenting motor and a knack for getting into the backfield, Nichols could have the tools in place to be a pass-rushing specialist.

What cornerback Berdale Robins lacks in size (5-8, 184 pounds), he more than makes up for with fearlessness and tenacity, solidifying his standing as one of the Mountain West’s best cover corners in 2021 with three interceptions and four pass breakups. While it’s most likely that he’s assigned to the slot if he can crack a NFL roster, he could thrive there as a defender unafraid to get physical with the press.

Kameron Toomer was something of an unsung hero on Nevada’s defensive line, but while the traditional stat sheet doesn’t scream playmaker, he was about as effective at winning in pass rush situations in 2021 as Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux. You may not have noticed, but NFL scouts probably did.

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New Mexico

Cornerbacks Corey Hightower and Tony Collier and safety Patrick Peek all found modest successes as part of the defensive backfield in Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 defense, but all three might be maxed out athletically. Collier did have a 39-inch vertical at the Lobos’ pro day, however, while Hightower went for 35 1/2, so never say never.

Kyle Jarvis might have the same concern at tight end, measuring at 6-3 and 239 pounds at New Mexico’s pro day. He has reliable hands, though, and the fact he had just 11 catches in 2021 was more symptomatic of offensive issues elsewhere than it was a reflection of his capabilities.

Andrew Shelley impressed as a redshirt freshman in 2018, connecting on 7-of-8 field goal tries, but he was a little shakier after that and made 70% of his attempts after that. He also ceded kickoff duties to other players throughout his college career, so he’s probably a long shot to hang around.

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San Diego State

The Aztecs have a pair of linebackers, Andrew Aleki and Segun Olubi, hoping to make the jump to the pros. Aleki started the majority of the team’s games over the past three seasons as an outside linebacker while Olubi spent time both inside and outside in 2021. Neither was as disruptive as past prospects like Miles Burris and Kyahva Tezino, but Olubi ran a blistering 4.44 40 with a 34.5-inch vertical at his pro day and added some intrigue to what he might do at six feet and 225 pounds.

San Diego State also has two defensive linemen in the mix, Jalil Lecky and Sefo Mailangi, but neither established themselves as starters and thus are more fringier candidates to stick. Lastly, offensive lineman Dominic Gudino proved to be a valuable chess piece in his time with the ‘Tecs, starting games at center and guard over the past four years while also serving as a team captain for a time. He may have the intangibles and flexibility to compete for a roster spot.

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San Jose State

Tyler Nevens was a major player in the Spartans’ run to a Mountain West title in 2020, helping secure a few late-season wins with big runs, but explosiveness isn’t really the name of his game. At 5-10 and 230 pounds, he’s a bulldozer with a solid base and reasonable acceleration who won’t outrun many defenders (4.90 40-yard time) in the pro ranks.

Cornerback Bobby Brown II and Jay Lenard give the Spartans a duo of prospects hoping to stick in the pros. After opting out of the 2020 season, Brown II wasn’t caught napping very often in 2021 and broke up 13 passes, flashing good instincts to pair with enough athleticism (10′ 6″ broad jump, 34.5-inch vertical at his pro day) to warrant a challenge for a roster spot.

Lenard, meanwhile, leaves San Jose State as one of the longest-tenured Spartans ever, having made 44 career starts and appeared in 54 games. He built a reputation as a sure tackler and run stopper, racking up 318 total tackles and 17 TFLs, so while some war rooms may hold his longevity in college football against him, he could be a quality pickup for anyone in need of a hard hitter.

Will Hart transferred to the Spartans from Michigan and gave the team some of its best punting in a good long while, but in a draft class that also includes Matt Araiza, Ryan Stonehouse, and others, merely averaging 44.4 yards per punt may not cut it.

Billy Bob Humphreys served as the second tight end in San Jose State’s offense, but it’s not simply Derrick Deese Jr.’s presence that dims his hopes of signing as a free agent. It’s the 5.39 40 time and the 1.84 10-yard split that do it.

Wide receiver Trevon Sidney is one of the more well-traveled of this year’s Mountain West prospects, having played at both Illinois and USC, but with 26 career catches in four years of action and a 4.72 40 time at 5-10 and 178 pounds just aren’t going to cut it.

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UNLV

Offensive guard Julio Garcia was probably one of the Mountain West’s more underappreciated players over the last several years, a primary reason why Charles Williams now owns the school’s all-time rushing record. His punishing aggressiveness and strength in run blocking is reflected in his 80.6 PFF grade, but he may not have the quick-twitch reactions needed (1.98 10-yard split) to keep up with faster athletes.

As for offensive tackle Clayton Bradley, he helped stabilize the Rebels’ line by making three starts at left tackle in 2020 and five more in 2021, but he also lost that starting role as last season progressed and has lots of work to do in order to keep up with NFL edge rushers.

Defensive tackle Kolo Uasike is a sturdy run defender who provided the Rebels a lot of size and a low center of gravity (5-11, 306 pounds). He was also remarkably consistent in his tenure with the team, posting a PFF overall grade between 71.3 and 76.4 in each of the last four seasons, and could earn an invite as someone capable of clogging running lanes with some surprising quickness (1.75 10-yard split).

Aaron Lewis is a cornerback prospect who held down the nickelback position for the last two seasons. He had a 38-inch vertical at the team’s pro day but it’ll be a battle to make a NFL roster at just 5-8 and 186 pounds while having run a 4.64 40 and he may be limited to slot corner duty if he sticks.

Linebacker Vic Viramontes arrived in Vegas with a bit of fanfare as a three-star juco recruit in 2019, but after making one start that year and five more in 2020, the 5-11, 237-pound prospect couldn’t hold on to a starting gig. One of the players who ultimately outpaced him, Kylan Wilborn, actually started three games at the end of 2021 at defensive tackle after transferring from Arizona but is probably maxed out athletically.

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Utah State

Shaq Bond was a part of the program’s fall and rebirth over the last several years, stepping into a starting safety role back in 2018 before an injury shortened his campaign in late October that year. He’d recover to make 29 more starts for the Aggies over the next three seasons, intercepting six passes and collecting 14 tackles for loss. After running a 4.82 40 at Utah State’s pro day, however, he’ll need to rely on his track record as a sure tackler with some ball skills for a chance to compete in the pros.

The wide receiver trio of Brandon Bowling, Derek Wright, and Jordan Nathan each played a role in the Aggies’ rise to the top of the Mountain West last fall. Bowling spent his one year in Logan, and his time at Arkansas State before that, burnishing his bonafides as a reliable slot option, so it wouldn’t be a shock if a NFL team gave him the chance to keep doing so despite an overall lack of size (5-9, 183 pounds).

Wright, meanwhile, actually led Utah State with 11 receiving touchdowns in 2021 and almost certainly turned some heads with a 38-inch vertical at the team’s pro day. Nathan, meanwhile, was relegated on the depth chart when other pass-catching options emerged last year and may not have the size (5-8, 177 pounds) or speed (4.65 40-yard time) to be much more than a camp body in the pros.

Marcus Moore did a lot of unheralded dirty work in the trenches for the Aggies after transferring from UCLA, racking up 10.5 tackles for loss as an interior lineman for the Utah State defense. He also put on a show at his pro day, as well, with a 34.5-inch vertical and 32 bench reps that hint at an athlete who perhaps deserves a longer look from NFL coaches than it would seem at first glance.

Cash Gilliam converted from safety to linebacker in his time with Utah State and played a key role during the championship run, collecting 64 tackles and two tackles for loss. However, at 5-10 and 201 pounds, he might be better served transitioning to the defensive backfield again for a chance to stick at the pro level and better take advantage of his quickness and smarts.

Carson Terrell contributed to the Aggies right away as a true freshman in 2017 and finished his career with 24 starts at tight end, though his NFL utility may be somewhat limited with only average size for the position (6-4, 248 pounds) and questions about his ability to block inline.

Offensive lineman Demetrick Ali’ifua leaves the program as its longest-tenured player ever, having played in 59 games at both center and guard. That longevity may be held against him, though, when compared with younger prospects, but his tenacity and balance should help him compete for a job, anyway.

Kyle Mayberry had only one year with the Aggies after transferring from Kansas and contributed mostly on special teams during the team’s championship run. That willingness to do unglamorous work, as well as his previous experience at both cornerback and safety, could endear him to a front office looking to fill out the last few spots on a roster.

Jaylin Bannerman provided much-needed depth to the defensive line for three seasons, starting five career games while picking up 4.5 TFLs and two sacks in 2021. After putting up a 10′ 3″ broad jump and a 32.5-inch vertical at Utah State’s pro day, he might deserve a look.

Running back Devonta’e Henry-Cole was a role player at Utah before transferring in-state to the Aggies, but he more or less disappeared from offensive game plans in 2021 and played in just two games. At the Aggies pro day, he ran a 4.44 40 at 5-7 and 193-pounds and had a 39-.5-inch vertical and a 10′ 11″ broad jump, so there might be something worth following in that flash of athleticism.

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Wyoming

Garrett Crall was a defensive leader for the Cowboys who picked up 16 sacks and 26.5 tackles for loss in his five years with Wyoming, but NFL teams may proceed with caution regarding the defensive end given his recent history of injuries, including one to his foot that slowed him in the early part of the 2020 season.

Ayden Eberhardt went from walk-on to field stretcher in his time with the Cowboys, averaging a healthy 15.3 yards per catch in his college career, but a knee injury suffered last October prevented him from participating at the team’s pro day and, as a result, he may need time to get healthy before taking aim at a NFL roster spot.

Esaias Gandy was a two-year starter for the Cowboys who ended up being more valuable than you’d probably suspect: He had the third-best coverage grade (81.6) among Mountain West safeties in 2021, according to Pro Football Focus, but the primary hangups of which NFL teams might be wary are that he’s slightly undersized as a safety prospect (5-11, 198 pounds) and perhaps a half-step too slow for the pro game (1.66 10-yard split).

Offensive lineman Logan Harris is a 6-2, 311-pound brawler who’s proven he can get off the line quickly and be a difference maker at guard and center… when he’s healthy. His biggest problem is a scary list of ailments — concussions and neck/spine injuries — that could prove to be a dealbreaker for NFL teams.

Running back Trey Smith had a pretty good second act with the Cowboys after transferring to Laramie from Louisville, averaging 5.5 yards with nine touchdowns on 146 rushing attempts over the past three years, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that his father is former Jacksonville Jaguars great Jimmy Smith. Playing seven years of college football altogether may damage his chances — he was in the same recruiting class as Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson — but the familiar surname and his willingness to do all of the little things in the Wyoming offense could earn him a shot.

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