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IMG 7v7 National Championships: Day 1 recap

The IMG 7v7 National Championships got off to a hot start Saturday as 25 of the nation's top high school and club teams took part in pool play. Each team played four games in their division to determine the seeding for the national championship tournament.

The players' day started when they were addressed by NCSA Athletic Recruiting guest speak Phil Clarke, a former standout linebacker for the Pitt Panthers and New Orleans Saints. Clarke provided education on the recruiting process, with emphasis on the impact of academics on playing at the collegiate level. He advised players about the importance of beginning to think about the recruiting process early, being realistic about their chances to play in college and making the best choices for their future.

The games began at 10:45 a.m., and the teams battled through the intense Florida heat to earn their spots in the championship bracket. Team Tampa WR Alvin Bailey may have had the highlight of the day as he took a dump-off pass, made two defenders miss and raced 30-yards down the sideline for a touchdown.

The player of the day was Cam Newton All-Stars QB Deshawn Watson, a Clemson commitment, who had a nearly flawless performance in an early game against Chicago's Core 6 squad. Watson threw six touchdown passes in the game, leading his team to an early-morning 40-6 victory.

On his team's performance, Watson said, “We're just going to take it one game at a time, and play everyone like it's our last. We're going to keep rolling and keep playing hard.”

Players are going to leave it all out on the field tomorrow, and are eager to compete for the honor of being the IMG 7v7 National Champions.

Team 239 QB Kurt Benkert said, “Tomorrow, I know the competition will be tough. Everything counts, and you can't make a lot of mistakes.”

Sunday's top seeds for the club and high school divisions will be the Cam Newton All-Stars and Cartersville High School respectively. The championship tournament resumes tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. with bracket play. The tournament is double-elimination, and the championship game is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. The championship final will be streamed live on UNation. To view the live stream of the title game, visit:

Pool Play Results:

Final Tournament Bracket:

Snapshots from the day:

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