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Updated Nov 18, 2011 - 5:20 pm

ASU student protecting 'A' mountain in Tempe

Nate McWhortor is on guard for an enemy clad in red and blue. (Colin Smith/KTAR)

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Like Paul Revere keeping a watchful eye for the British invasion, Nate McWhortor is on guard for an enemy clad in red and blue.

High atop Tempe's 'A' Mountain, on the eve of the Duel in the Desert, the ASU senior is looking for Wildcats with dreams of vandalizing the coveted golden 'A'.

"There are some criminals to the south of us that like to paint it red," McWhortor told 92.3 KTAR. "We're here to make sure that doesn't happen."

McWhortor is one of a dozen ASU students who have been protecting the 60-foot letter since last Saturday. Twenty- four hours a day, they work in shifts to prevent sabotage.

"ASU is me, it's my life," said McWhortor, a Cave Creek native and second-generation ASU student. "The 'A' represents us, it's about honor, dignity and success."

Late Thursday night, McWhortor was visited by a mysterious group that may not have shared those views.

"They wouldn't say if they were ASU students or U of A students, so we're pretty sure they were U of A scouts, checking out the scene," McWhortor said.

Painting the 'A' comes with a possible $1,400 fine.

"If we catch them, I plan to rumble," McWhortor said, jokingly. "In all seriousness, we will contact the Tempe Police and they will handle it because it is a crime."

A suspected group of U of A vandals last gave the 'A' a red makeover in 2009, despite ASU students' 24-hour watch.

"We've heard word that they are in the area so now is the time to remain especially vigilant," McWhortor said.

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