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North's Sawyer selected to U.S. Army All-American game

North Gwinnett defensive end Dante Sawyer (95) of the East Team, covers Peach County High School's Chavis Dickey (79) of the West Team during the Georgia Junior Bowl played Monday at Grady Stadium in Atlanta.

North Gwinnett defensive end Dante Sawyer (95) of the East Team, covers Peach County High School's Chavis Dickey (79) of the West Team during the Georgia Junior Bowl played Monday at Grady Stadium in Atlanta.

The last time Dante Sawyer went to San Antonio, he famously found a wallet with $360 on the ground at the U.S. Army All-American game.

The rising North Gwinnett senior will return there next year and he hopes to cash in again.

Sawyer was selected to the prestigious U.S. Army All-American game, which features the nation's top high school seniors. The 2014 game will be played on Jan. 4 at the Alamodome and will televised on NBC.

"Coach (Erik) Richards has been my coach for a long time and he told me it was coming," Sawyer said. "But when I found out I was really happy."

Since the game began 13 years ago, more than 200 of its players have been selected in the NFL draft. Sawyer will join Gwinnett grads such as Buford's Dillon Lee (2012), Norcross' Brice Butler (2008), GAC/Parkview's Caleb King (2007) and Wesleyan's Eric Broe (2001) who have been selected to the game.

"It means a lot to be selected," Sawyer said. "I know a couple of my friends are going to play in the game, so it's going to be fun."

Sawyer was an eighth-grader at North Gwinnett Middle School when he found the wallet on the ground at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl combine. He was a member of a youth all-star game for Football University. He quickly returned it to a coach and never considered opening the wallet and taking its contents.

It turned out to be a good fortune for Sawyer, who has emerged as one of the nation's top defensive linemen.

"I think it is extremely unique that Sawyer, three years ago as an eighth-grade Eastbay Youth All-American, was down in San Antonio and found a wallet with a large amount of cash in it," said Erik Richards, the National Recruiting Director for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. "While some of his peers urged him to keep it, and they could split the money, Dante did the right thing and turned it in. That, my friends, should be a lesson in good Karma. Here we are and he will be back in San Antonio, which has as much to do with his character off the field as well as his play on it."

As a junior, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end made 83 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown.

"Dante's hard work and determination constantly counters recruiting analysts' evaluations that he is a little undersized at defensive end," Richards said.

Sawyer has more than a dozen Division I scholarship offers, including national champion Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Southern California.

"I'm taking it slow right now (with recruiting) the last few weeks," Sawyer said.