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Sumter High School wide receiver Tylee Craft and defensive back O'Donnell Fortune have been selected to the South Carolina squad for the 83rd Annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas football game.
"I'm happy for both of them," said SHS head coach Mark Barnes. "I feel they'll both do a great job of representing the school and the community. This is one of the biggest honors you can receive as a high school football player in this state."
Craft, who has committed to the University of North Carolina, has just six catches this season, but they have gone for 159 yards, a 26.5 per-catch average. Three of those have been for touchdowns.
"It's an honor; I'm happy to have been selected to play," said Craft, who is 6-foot-3-inches and weighs 180 pounds. "I wasn't really thinking about this (being selected to the Shrine Bowl). My thoughts have been on us winning a state championship."
Craft has burst on the scene in the eyes of college recruiters in recent months. Barnes believes the reason for that is the fact that Sumter hasn't relied on the passing game as much in his previous years.
"We just haven't really thrown the ball that much in the past," Barnes said. "He went to some camps though, and they saw him catch, saw his size, and they saw that he was a (NCAA) Division I player. Now they're getting to see him do it on Friday nights too."
Craft had 21 catches for 400 yards and five scores as a junior.
Fortune, on the other hand, has been viewed as a DI talent for a while. The University of South Carolina commitment has nine tackles on the season, six of them solo stops. He has one interception, that coming in the Gamecocks' 61-0 victory over Lakewood on Friday at Memorial Stadium's Freddie Solomon Field.
Fortune was running with the Lakewood wide receiver on a deep route down the sideline. He pulled in the football with one hand at midfield, then he turned and worked his way back down the field. He took it 49 yards, being stopped at the 1-yard line.
"He's very versatile," Barnes said of Fortune, who has one tackle for loss and has broken up a pass this season. "He can run, he can make plays on the ball like he did on Friday. He's been a little more in the limelight (than Craft). I'm very happy for him."
As a junior, Fortune had five interceptions for 55 yards in return. He had 48 tackles, 41 of them solo stops, three tackles for loss, broke up five passes and recovered a fumble.
The game will be played on Saturday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. in Spartanburg at Wofford College's Gibbs Stadium.
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