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IMG 7v7 National Championships event preview

IMG 7v7 National Championships, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. - Event Preview

Over the past few months, teams qualified for a spot in the IMG 7v7 National Championships by participating in official qualifiers throughout the country, including a series of regional events hosted by IMG Academy. The time has finally arrived for 25 of the nation's best 7v7 squads to compete to determine who this year's champion will be. This year's event will feature two divisions - high school and club.

Four teams that competed in last year's event qualified to return for a chance at the title. They include Miami's South Florida Express, Team Tampa, Pro Impact and the defending national champion, Maximum Exposure of Detroit.

The festivities kick off on Friday, June 29, with the Cam Newton Skills Challenge. Cam Newton and IMG Academy joined together to form the event with a goal of advancing the youth initiative at the core of the Cam Newton Foundation. Cam will be on-hand to oversee a day-long event featuring a skills competition, C360 fitness challenges and an obstacle course.

The IMG 7v7 National Championships will begin on Saturday with pool play between 10:45 a.m. and 4:05 p.m. Pool play will determine the seeding for the championship tournament on Sunday. Sunday's double-elimination championship tournament will begin at 8:30 a.m., and the final is scheduled to take place at 3:45 p.m. An awards ceremony will follow immediately after.

We are excited to join forces with UNation who will be capturing action photos and footage of the event throughout the weekend. Photos, interviews, and live streaming of Sunday's championship game at 3:45pm will be available here:

Some of the most notable teams participating in the event include:

Maximum Exposure Gold and Maximum Exposure Blue (Michigan): The Gold team, led by QB Shane Morris of De La Salle High School (Warren, Mich.), qualified for the tournament automatically after winning last year's event. Morris, a long-time Michigan commitment, will seek to lead his team to a repeat national championship, but will also vie to earn his second consecutive tournament MVP award.

Team Tampa (Tampa, Fla.): Team Tampa boasts an impressive roster of top Tampa Bay area talent, and they are back again in 2012 to finally earn a championship. Team Tampa finished as the runner-up in last year's tournament, and qualified for this year's event after finishing as the runner-up at the IMG 7v7 Southeast Regional in Bradenton, Fla., March 24-25. They are led by top players DB Vernon Hargreaves, III (Wharton HS, Tampa, Fla.), WR Alvin Bailey (Armwood HS, Seffner, Fla.) and Leon McQuay (Armwood HS, Seffner, Fla.).

South Florida Elite Elite and South Florida Express Pro (Miami, Fla.): The South Florida Express is back again after an impressive showing at the 2011 National Championship. The Elite Squad, led by WR Jordan Cunningham (University School, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and DB Sojourn Shelton (Plantation HS, Plantation, Fla.), qualified this year after winning the Southeast Regional convincingly, going undefeated through pool play and the championship tournament. They are joined by the SFE Pro squad, who qualified separately at this year's AIRO High School 7-on-7 in Pembroke Pines, Fla., April 14.

Team 239 (Ft. Meyers/Naples, Fla.): As the name indicates, Team 239 is led by some of the top players in the Naples and Ft. Meyers area. Team 239 finished in the top four of the Southeast Regional in March to earn a spot to compete for the National Championship. They are led by top players such as LB Jayron Kearse (South Ft. Meyers HS, Ft. Meyers, Fla.), TE Mike Heuerman (Barron Collier HS Naple, Fla.) and many other top prospects.

Bootleggers (Louisiana): The Bootleggers boast top players from all around Louisiana, and qualified for the National Championship after winning the BMOC Under the Lights tournament in New Orleans, May 19-20. The Bootleggers are led by a star-studded quartet of LSU commitments, WR John Diarse (Neville HS, Monroe, La.), ATH Tre'Davious White (Green Oaks HS, Shreveport, La.), DB Jeryl Brazil (Loranger HS, Loranger, La.) and DB Jeremy Cutrer (Jewel Sumner HS, Kentwood, La.).

The remainder of the field consists of BBT Athletics (Los Angeles, Calif.), Pro-Sport USA (San Jose, Calif.), TGS Warriors (Sacramento, Calif.), West Jefferson HS (Harvey, La.), Core 6 (Chicago, Ill.), Palmetto HS (Palmetto, Fla.), AWP Sports (Ft. Wayne, Ind.), Central Florida Top Recruits (Orlando, Fla.), Space Coast Elite (Melbourne/Cocoa Beach, Fla.), Pro Impact (Jacksonville/Gainesville, Fla.), Team Next Level (Knoxville, Tenn.), D-Block #7 (Knoxville, Tenn.), Carver HS (Atlanta, Ga.), Grady HS (Atlanta, Ga.), Cartersville HS (Atlanta, Ga.), Martin Luther King HS (Atlanta, Ga.), Cam Newton All-Stars (Atlanta, Ga.) and West Tennessee Xpress (Tennessee/Alabama/Mississippi).

Prior to the event, all participants will be addressed by guest speaker Phil Clarke, a former standout linebacker for the Pitt Panthers and New Orleans Saints. Through event sponsor NCSA Athletic Recruiting, Clarke will provide education on the recruiting process, with emphasis on the impact of academics on playing at the collegiate level. Athletes will also enjoy having apparel and accessories provided by Under Armour, and G-Series products provided by Gatorade throughout the weekend.

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