ACC: Myron Rolle

It was only a few months ago Emanuel McGirt's sister, Camille, introduced McGirt to Myron Rolle's story. McGirt, a talented lineman with seven BCS offers, dreams of playing in the NFL, but Camille sat McGirt down and talked of the need for a backup plan.

She had one in 2010, when an ACL tear ended her basketball career at Hampton but didn’t derail her from interning at the White House or founding her own company. However, Rolle, a former No. 1 high school recruit and All-American, had a much more public Plan B.

[+] EnlargeMyron Rolle
AP Photo/Rob CarrMyron Rolle's experiences in the classroom, as well as on the field, as made him an inspiration to recruits.
“She told me about Myron Rolle a couple months ago,” said McGirt, who attends Durham (N.C.) Hillside, “but I didn’t pay attention.”

That lesson registered Saturday, as McGirt’s eyes were fixated on Florida State’s junior day guest speaker. They were fixated on Rolle.

“He said don’t let football define you,” said McGirt, who has a 3.92 high school GPA. “You always hear it from someone who never played football, so it’s good to hear from someone who made it. He makes you feel comfortable to be smart and play football.”

Football has never defined Rolle, who attended a Rhodes Scholar interview and played safety for the Seminoles on the same night. So when Rolle enrolled at Florida State following a short NFL career to concentrate on neurosurgery, Jimbo Fisher approached him about speaking to prospects during recruiting weekends. Rolle “unequivocally” accepted.

“I truly support the program and ideology Coach Fisher has for the team,” Rolle said. “So anyway I can help augment the process by [FSU] being a program that not only puts players in the NFL but puts degrees in players’ hands, I’m all on board.”

Rolle was the first No. 1 high school recruit for ESPN, which began ranking prospects in 2006. A Bahamian emigrant, he landed in New Jersey and attended a prestigious prep school just three miles from Princeton University. High school classmates, many Ivy League bound, pushed Rolle to go to Stanford or Notre Dame, even nearby Princeton. Attending football factory Florida State would be selling himself short, some told him.

“They were trying to put me in a box, and I told recruits don’t let anyone take the pen and write their narrative,” Rolle said. “... [The recruits] were very perceptive, locked in and engaged, and asked great questions. [Football] is going to end for everybody ... [and] we’re all going to have to exit stage left. I had to leave the game after being No. 1 in the country, I’m an example, and it resonated.”

Derwin James Jr. was in Tallahassee on Saturday and sat in on Rolle’s 30-minute speech to recruits. The two spoke one-on-one afterward, and Rolle’s first questions were about James’ GPA and leadership qualities. Rolle was not interested in discussing the fact that James is also the country’s No. 1 safety and planning to enroll at Florida State next year.

“He’s my new role model,” James, who owns a 3.4 GPA, said. “That’s a person I see myself wanting to be like.”

Myron Rolle favors paying college athletes

April, 1, 2011
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ESPN The Magazine's Bruce Feldman had a lengthy interview with former Florida State safety Myron Rolle on the state of college sports, and Rolle said he is "in favor of paying collegiate athletes." Here is an excerpt of the Q&A with Rolle, who is now with the Tennessee Titans:
"I am in favor of paying collegiate athletes, and I say that because football and basketball -- and I use those two because they're the biggest revenue-generating sports -- provide a lot of finances for the school. They promote the school. They increase enrollment for the school. And the life blood of those sports are the players, who work hard, who train their body and their mind. The athletes are put under a microscope in terms of all their actions within the community and at the school and in class. It's very analogous to a job. I feel the players should be compensated at least at a minimum for the work they do to enhance the reputation, the monies and the prestige of the institution for which they play."

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 26, 2010
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Spring games and the NFL draft made for a busy weekend in the ACC ...

  • Full disclosure: I'm from Pennsylvania. Born on the Western side. That makes me a Steelers fan. Welcome to the club, Jonathan Dwyer. The surprising news, though, was how long Dwyer had to wait to get there.
  • Former Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell also went later than many expected, falling to the fourth round.
  • It took until the final day for a trio of Miami players to hear their names called -- not that Jason Fox minded.
  • Former Wake Forest offensive lineman Chris DeGeare was surprised he wound up with Minnesota.
  • There are a few remaining concerns for the Carolina schools heading into the summer.
  • Virginia Tech and FSU have been deemed the ACC's early front-runners by at least one media outlet already.
  • Here are seven storylines worth watching in the conference this year.
  • Former FSU safety Myron Rolle convinced the Tennessee Titans he was worthy of a pick, even if it didn't come until the sixth round.
  • FSU coach Jimbo Fisher answered a few of the media's questions on this week's ACC teleconference.
  • Michael Vick received a mostly warm welcome back to Virginia Tech this past weekend.
  • Former Georgia Tech receiver Demaryius Thomas' success has inspired Stephen Hill to aim for the same.

ACC's lunchtime links

April, 19, 2010
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I heard you missed me ...

  • Move over Myron Rolle, you've got some company. BC lineman Anthony Castonzo has been nominated for a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Congrats to Castonzo, who is a well-spoken, hard working player who deserves a shot at both the NFL and the scholarship.
  • Former Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer's failed drug test at the NFL combine was the result of prescription medication to treat a pre-existing condition.
  • Clemson has elbowed its way into a three way race against the SEC for quarterback Christian LeMay, who has narrowed his choices to Clemson, Auburn and Georgia.
  • Marc Verica appears to be the front-runner to be Virginia's quarterback, but can the Cavaliers win with any of their QBs this year?
  • Former FSU cornerback Patrick Robinson should be a valuable commodity in this NFL draft.
  • Optimism has returned for Virginia Tech defensive backs coach Torrian Gray.
  • Wake Forest's offense stepped it up a notch in Saturday's spring game.
  • NC State's receivers lived up to the hype against a secondary still struggling to find its identity.

Odds 'n' ends from the NFL combine

March, 3, 2010
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You can find all of the NFL combine tests results here, but I thought I'd point out a few highlights -- and some lowlights -- for some of the former ACC players who participated the past few days.

[+] EnlargeFord
AP Photo/Michael ConroyJacoby Ford had the fastest time in the 40-yard dash of any player at the combine.
C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford showcased their blazing speed, as Ford posted the fasted 40-yard dash time (4.28) and Spiller was second among running backs (4.37). Kam Chancellor had a ball bounce off his hands and Crezdon Butler appeared "stiff in space" according to our Scouts Inc. report. Former Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan didn't do anything to jeopardize his spot as a high first-round pick, but safety Morgan Burnett missed the 40-yard dash with a hamstring injury.

• Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. on Virginia CB Chris Cook:
Virginia CB Chris Cook turned some heads at the Senior Bowl, and he's doing the same in Indianapolis. At 6-2 and 212 pounds Cook posted an unofficial 4.43 seconds. That's an excellent size-speed combination for a safety and rare to see in a corner. Cook also recorded a jaw-dropping 11-0 broad jump.

• Muench on former Virginia Tech linebacker Cody Grimm:
Virginia Tech's Cody Grimm is an interesting prospect. Grimm appears instinctive and relentless on film, but he played outside linebacker in college and is just not big enough to line up there in the NFL. He measured just 5-10^ and 203 pounds and would be a better fit at safety, where he would have the potential to develop into an adequate reserve and special-teams contributor. Grimm's 4.54 time in the 40 is encouraging because the average time for safeties last year was 4.63 seconds and in 2008 was 4.55 seconds.

• What to make of Jonathan Dwyer? He was listed as one of the 10 most polarizing players in the combine by Bruce Feldman:
There were a bunch of fast backs in Indy; Dwyer was not one of them. His size is good (228 pounds) and he looks dynamic on film, but some skeptics will wonder if much of that is due to the frenetic nature of the triple option scheme he played in at Tech. He didn't test as a particularly explosive guy, and he looked shaky in the position drills and didn't seem comfortable as a receiver.

• Here's an excerpt from Todd McShay on former FSU safety Myron Rolle:
Purely from a football standpoint, Rolle has the tools of a potential third-round pick who could be developed into an adequate starter two or three years down the road. However, while NFL teams love the Rhodes scholar's intelligence and work ethic, there is a growing concern regarding his long-term dedication to football. Rolle is in a truly unique situation and has a lot of convincing to do between now and the draft.

• The Sporting News listed Miami's Jimmy Graham, Maryland's Bruce Campbell and Clemson's Jacoby Ford among its offensive combine winners. Russ Lande of TSN listed Derrick Morgan and Virginia Tech's Jason Worilds among the defensive winners, but it doesn't sound good for Duke's Vince Oghobaase.

• Campbell really turned some heads with his 40 time. Chad Reuter of NFLDraftScout.com wrote:
Campbell also has 36.5-inch arms and bench-pressed 225 pounds 34 times. Said one scout said, "He has the best body of anyone I've ever seen."

• Of course, the question is whether he can block. Said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, "If there's a star so far in the combine, it's him. What he's going to have to overcome is the tape."

• Reuter on Miami's Graham:
Miami (Fla.) tight end Jimmy Graham ran a 4.56, according to NFL.com. Graham played only one season of football for the Hurricanes, but his basketball background intrigues scouts and his blistering 40 time could lift Graham as high as the second round.

FSU's Rolle shouldn't hold back

March, 3, 2010
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Everyone seems to have their own idea of who former Florida State safety Myron Rolle is and what he should be doing.

What I can't understand is how everyone can fawn over how smart Rolle is, boast about what a good role model he is as if he were their own son, and yet not trust in him to make decisions for himself.

[+] EnlargeRolle
AP Photo/Dave MartinMyron Rolle is pursuing his dream of playing in the NFL after taking a year off from football.
No, he did not abandon his team.

And no, he will not and should not give up on his dream of playing in the NFL.

According to Jason Cole, at Yahoo! sports, Rolle's commitment to his team was questioned by the Tampa Bay Bucs:
During a 45-minute interview before the Senior Bowl in January with seven members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff, including head coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik, one member of the staff asked Rolle what it felt like to desert his team this season.

“I hadn’t heard that one before,” said Rolle, who pauses ever so slightly before answering to consider his thoughts. “My initial reaction was a bit of confusion. It never was anger, but I was more bothered by the question because if anyone knew my involvement with my teammates, how much they care about me and how much I care about them.”

The only thing Rolle abandoned was the notion that you can't be an elite athlete and an elite student. The only thing he's not committed to is being pigeonholed as one or the other.

Clark Judge at CBSSports.com says that Rolle should use his head to be a doctor instead of clashing helmets with opponents. That he should "get on with your life." Football, though, is a part of his life, part of who he is, and it's what makes Rolle so unique.

Judge wrote:
I understand that playing football is a life-long passion for Rolle, and, yes, I heard him Sunday when he said playing in the NFL is a life-long dream. That's great. But sometimes you have to listen to your head, not your heart, and Myron Rolle should start paying attention. Why? Basically because he can make more of a difference as a doctor than he can as an NFL player. Myron Rolle is an extraordinary student. He is not an extraordinary safety. So use that head, Myron, and connect the dots.

It's no secret that Rolle isn't a top NFL draft pick. He knows it. He's smart, he's not delusional. But Rolle wouldn't be where he's at if he hadn't pushed himself every day along the way. He's put himself in a position to do both -- play in the NFL and become a neurosurgeon. Why now should he have to choose between the two when he's proved all along that he can do both? Why should that goal be discouraged when almost every FBS college football player is aspiring to do the same -- graduate and play in the NFL? Should everyone who's not a first-round draft pick just forget it?

Tell that to Boston College offensive lineman Anthony Castonzo, who is a biochem major and wants to cure cancer, but is hoping to earn some money in the NFL first to pay for the research. Tell it to Duke center Bryan Morgan, who hopes to compose his own music someday, or Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, who is finishing up his MBA.

This is Rolle's story. It's his dream, and it should be an inspiration to athletes everywhere. The fact that Rolle is even at the combine, even being considered by NFL teams is remarkable considering how few players actually make it to the next level and are given that opportunity.

Instead of questioning Rolle or telling him what he should do, we should all just listen to him. Odds are we'd be all be smarter for it.

ACC's lunchtime links

March, 1, 2010
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It's March, which means every team in the ACC at some point will have practiced this month.
  • Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich is slowly working his way back, but coach Frank Spaziani hasn't penciled him into the depth chart quite yet.
  • Miami running back Storm Johnson has lived up to his name so far at spring practices. Stay out of his way, unless you want to get jacked up.
  • Maryland got itself a walk-on punter who will be given the opportunity to earn a scholarship and starting job.
  • Georgia Tech's coaching staff is making a bit less than it did a year ago, but that could change once contracts and raises have been reviewed.
  • Myron Rolle got a rather odd question at the NFL combine from the Tampa Bay Bucs. What a shame, really, on the Bucs.
  • Jimbo Fisher spoke to the media recently about FSU's fourth-quarter drills.

Must-read on FSU's Rolle

February, 18, 2010
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Here's a story on former Florida State safety Myron Rolle that you don't want to miss. And no, you haven't read everything about Rolle yet.

This is a different take, one about the pressures he's facing and the expectations everyone has for him.

ESPN The Magazine's Wright Thompson spent about a week with Rolle in Oxford and captured a different side of him. Read this when you have time, when you're not distracted. You can also catch the story at 9 a.m. Sunday on ESPN's "Outside the Lines."

video

ACC recruiting rewind

February, 2, 2010
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You would think that with how well the ACC has fared in recruiting the past four years, it would have eventually made a bigger push on the national landscape during the season. Miami has had three top-10 classes, and Florida State has had two. Overall, the trend in the ACC has been that Florida State, Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech and North Carolina have led the conference on the recruiting front. Three of those teams have appeared in ESPN.com's final Top 25 ranking in each of the past four years (UNC has been there three of the past four.) Only the Hokies, though, have had it translate into postseason success -- so far. There was a common thread, though, amongst the other programs -- a coaching change or, in Florida State's case, coaching questions.

[+] EnlargeJohnson
Paul Abell/US PresswireAldarius Johnson was one of 12 ESPNU 150 players in Miami's No. 1-rated 2008 class.
It was impossible to predict, though, that players like former Miami quarterback Robert Marve would transfer, or that former FSU linebacker Marcus Ball would have off-field troubles and ask for his release.

Here's a reminder at how highly ranked several teams in the ACC have repeatedly finished since 2006, according to ESPN.com's Scouts Inc. rankings. You can click on the year to go to the full ranking. I mentioned a few of the top players in each class who were facing high expectations at the time, or players who weren't facing many expectations and have since proven otherwise (see: Virginia Tech).

2006

No. 6 FSU (Myron Rolle)
No. 13 Clemson (C.J. Spiller, Jamie Cumbie, Ricky Sapp)
No. 17 Miami (Kylan Robinson)
No. 23 Maryland (Pha'Terrell Washington, Drew Gloster)
No. 24 Virginia Tech (Rashad Carmichael, Nekos Brown, Kam Chancellor)
No. 25 UNC (Aleric Mullins, Johnny White)

2007

No. 9 Miami (Robert Marve, Allen Bailey)
No. 11 UNC (Quan Sturdivant, Marvin Austin)
No. 14 Georgia Tech (Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan, Josh Nesbitt)
No. 15 Virginia Tech (Tyrod Taylor, Blake DeChristopher, Barquell Rivers)
No. 18 Clemson (Willy Korn, Scotty Cooper, Marcus Gilchrist)
No. 25 Florida State (Brandon Paul, Markish Jones)

2008

No. 1 Miami (Sean Spence, Jacory Harris, Aldarius Johnson)
No. 2 Clemson (DaQuan Bowers, Kyle Parker, Jamie Harper)
No. 12 FSU (Zebrie Sanders, E.J. Manuel, Nigel Carr)
No. 15 Virginia Tech (Ryan Williams)
No. 20 NC State (Mike Glennon, Brandon Barnes)

2009

No. 7 Miami (Ray Ray Armstrong, Mike James)
No. 8 FSU (Greg Reid, Jacobbi McDaniel)
No. 13 UNC (Bryn Renner, Donavan Tate, Jheranie Boyd)
No. 18 Virginia Tech (Jayron Hosley, David Wilson, Logan Thomas)
No. 19 Clemson (Tajh Boyd, Bryce McNeal)

Senior Bowl rewind

February, 1, 2010
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Unfortunately for the ACC, there wasn't much to talk about in this year's Senior Bowl. Former Clemson receiver Jacoby Ford played the most integral role and finished second on the North team in all-purpose yards with 59.

The good news for the ACC? Some of the conference's best players were juniors in 2009. Had it been the Georgia Tech/North Carolina Junior Bowl, this game might have been a different story. But without players like C.J. Spiller, Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan, Ryan Williams, etc., this game didn't paint a fair picture of what the ACC had to offer in 2009 talent-wise. Not that there weren't some talented seniors. According to Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret, Spiller was invited but chose to heal the turf toe that had been nagging him all season.

The final stats:

  • Ford had one run for 6 yards, one catch for 7 yards and two punt returns for 46 yards.
  • Virginia fullback Rashawn Jackson had one carry for 1 yard, and one catch for 9 yards.
  • Florida State cornerback Patrick Robinson was second with six tackles and one pass breakup.
  • FSU linebacker Dekoda Watson had three tackles.
  • Miami linebacker Darryl Sharpton had three tackles.
  • Former FSU safety Myron Rolle had three tackles.
  • Maryland safety Terrell Skinner had three tackles.
  • Virginia cornerback Chris Cook had two tackles.
  • Maryland fullback Cory Jackson had two tackles.
  • UNC defensive tackle Cam Thomas had one sack for a loss of 7 yards.
  • Wake Forest cornerback Brandon Ghee had one tackle.
The best story to come out of the Senior Bowl for the ACC was that of Rolle. Following the week of practice, ESPN's Todd McShay gave Rolle a final grade of an A-minus and wrote that Rolle could be a third-round draft pick. That's impressive, considering Rolle spent the past year in Oxford studying as a Rhodes Scholar. He proved -- once again -- that being a standout athlete and student don't have to be exclusive of each other, and for that, the ACC couldn't have asked for a better representative in this year's Senior Bowl.
video
Former FSU player and current Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle talks about his football future.

ACC's lunchtime links

January, 28, 2010
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With the recruiting drama going on and the new hire, it would be easy to write about Miami all day today, but I'll refrain ...

  • Georgia Tech's recruits are still committed, despite the departure of recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Giff Smith to the NFL.
  • Might Maryland and Notre Dame meet in 2011? FedEx Field is becoming a rather popular home away from home for the ACC.
  • Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is reaching back to Danny Ford's philosophy of recruiting -- and that philosophy worked.
  • Former FSU safety Myron Rolle has gotten some attention at the Senior Bowl.
  • Miami coach Randy Shannon will get an in-home visit with superstar recruit Seantrel Henderson.
  • Former first lady Laura Bush and Bobby Bowden were both speakers together in Tampa on Wednesday.

Final Senior Bowl rosters released

January, 25, 2010
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The final rosters for the Under Armour Senior Bowl have been posted. The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 30 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. Duke and Georgia Tech are the only ACC schools that aren't represented in the game. The following is a list of ACC players who will participate:

NORTH

Chris Cook, CB, Virginia

Jacoby Ford, WR, Clemson

Brandon Ghee, CB, Wake Forest

Rashawn Jackson, FB, Virginia

Terrell Skinner, DB, Maryland

Matt Tennant, C, Boston College

Cam Thomas, DL, North Carolina

Ed Wang, OL, Virginia Tech

SOUTH

Jimmy Graham, TE, Miami

Ted Larsen, OL, NC State

Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State

Myron Rolle, S, Florida State

Darryl Sharpton, LB, Miami

Dekoda Watson, LB, Florida State

What's next for Rolle?

January, 25, 2010
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Former FSU safety and Rhodes scholar Myron Rolle has been an intriguing story both on and off the field, but it's been a while since he's actually played. How Rolle looks in the upcoming Senior Bowl will be one of the top storylines worth watching. Here is the take from Scouts Inc.:

The public is enamored with Rolle's story. He took a year off of football to study at Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship and is jumping back in with both feet after only a month to prepare for his Senior Bowl audition. Scouts, however, come in with all sorts of questions about his readiness and his overall football instincts. Rolle was never a top-tier prospect to begin with, but with a solid overall performance he has a chance to show teams he is worth a mid-round pick based on his developmental potential. We're interested to see whether he presses early on or comes in loose, because he obviously has so many other things going for him outside of football.

Todd McShay gave his scouting report today on Rolle. Insiders get a more detailed account, but here's a free sneak peek at what McShay had to say:

The 223-pounder has never been great in man-to-man coverage and his ball skills are in question, so we will be studying him closely in both areas. Finally, teams want to know if Rolle is serious about playing football for the long term. The grilling will begin at the Senior Bowl and intensify at next month's scouting combine.

That's the good news about Rolle: He's smart enough that he doesn't have to rely on football in his future, but it's a part of him and it would be encouraging for other younger athletes to see that, yes, you can literally be among the best on and off the field. Having followed Rolle's story, it's impossible not to wish him the best in his next endeavor. Rolle has already given so much back to his community, it would be nice to see him rewarded for his hard work and efforts with a chance at the next level.

Myron Rolle to play in Senior Bowl

January, 18, 2010
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Former FSU safety and Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle hasn't forgotten about football during his studies overseas the past year, and he's hoping NFL scouts haven't forgotten about him.

Rolle will play in the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl, joining former teammates Dekoda Watson and Patrick Robinson on the South roster. The game will be held Jan. 30 at 4 p.m. (ET) in Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game and all practices will be televised by the NFL Network.

Rolle is the first Rhodes Scholar to participate in the Senior Bowl.

“The opportunity that I have to play in the Senior Bowl is one that I will certainly cherish and value because NFL teams and scouts haven’t seen me for a year,” Rolle said. “This will be the first time I’m on a stage with some other talented players to display my ability and show that I haven’t lost any of my athleticism in a year.”

Rolle finished third on the team in total tackles (62) in 2008 and broke his string of 30 straight starts after arriving late for the Maryland game which fell on the same day as his Rhodes Scholarship interview.

“The only thing I haven’t done in a year is hit somebody and be physical. So once I get that first hit out of my system I think it will be like normal again. I’ve been playing football for 15, 16 years and I’m just ready for the Senior Bowl and the challenge that lies ahead.”

Rolle has 206 total career tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 13 pass deflections. He has been working with trainer Tom Shaw since he graduated from FSU in 2008 in preparation for the 2010 NFL draft. Following a career in the NFL, Rolle said he plans on attending medical school and becoming a neurosurgeon. He also hopes to open up a free medical clinic in his native Bahamas.

“NFL players are revered in this country, they are role models and if you have that platform or that sort of reach to all of Americans, especially to fans of professional sports, you can make a difference," he said. "The ones that do make a difference are the ones that understand that concept and utilize their positioning in society to advocate for something that’s pertinent to them or pertinent to our whole world and that’s what I plan on doing.”

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