Travis Yates was a standout defensive end at Hillcrest High School, part of a defensive unit that led the 1985 Wildcats football team to the 4A Division II state title.
Upon graduating high school, Yates went to Wofford College to play football …
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Upon graduating high school, Yates went to Wofford College to play football at a new position, inside linebacker. He excelled there as well, leading the Terriers in tackles his final two seasons.
Because of his success at both the high school and collegiate levels, Yates has been selected for induction into the Sumter Sports Hall of Fame.
"It's really a great honor," Yates said. "Whoever it is that makes the decision as to who goes in, I'm honored that they thought I was deserving enough for this. it's a big honor."
Yates will be inducted along with Lisa Ard, Connie Ballard, the late Buddy Hodge, Garon Jackson, Stacy Martin and Brooks Shumake today beginning at 6 p.m. at the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Sumter located at 630 South Sumter Street.
Tickets are $25 a person for the event and can be purchased at the Boys & Girls Club. Its offices are open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call Jean Ford at (803) 775-5006.
Hillcrest made its run to the state title during Yates' junior season. The Wildcats opened with a home win over Walterboro and followed it with a pair of heart-stopping road victories over Berkeley and Stratford. Yates didn't get to play against Stratford because he had bruised kidneys. He wasn't going to let that hinder him when Hillcrest met Byrnes in the title game at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.
"There was no way I was missing that game," Yates said of the victory that came with running back Fred Garner scoring a late touchdown. "It was just a great feeling, one you can't explain. After the game, I just couldn't believe it. Byrnes was a tough team."
Yates was selected to play in the North-South All-Star Football Game before he signed with Wofford. he made the move to inside linebacker and started his final three years. He had 31 total tackles and two forced fumbles as a freshman in 1987. He was third in tackles as a sophomore with 68 and had five quarterback sacks. As a junior, he had a team high 90 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, one sack and one interception and had a team high 98 as a senior with seven TFLs and one sack.
"That wasn't an easy transition (to inside linebacker)," said Yates, who is fifth on Wofford's all-time tackles list with 287. "On the line, your focus was mainly on the quarterback. As a linebacker, you had to watch the linemen, the quarterback, the running backs; people were coming from every direction. And at the college level, they were coming a lot faster and a lot harder."
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