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Q&A: Lemont High School grad Fejedelem aims to make impact at Illinois

Published: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 10:25 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 2:27 p.m. CDT
(Photo provided by University of Illinois)
Clayton Fejedelem (20) runs down the field during the 2013 spring game at the University of Illinois. After transferring from St. Xavier University, the Lemont High School graduate is finally eligible to play for the Illini this season.

After finishing his successful high school football career at Lemont High School, which included a spot on the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Class 6A all-state team in 2010, Clayton Fejedelem kept the success coming at St. Xavier University.

He helped SXU win an NAIA title in 2011 and a 14-1 record, and the following year Fejedelem was part of a squad that finished 11-2.

Looking for a bigger challenge, Fejedelem joined the University of Illinois as a walk-on in the spring of 2013, but he had to sit out last fall in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.

Fejedelem recently spoke with Suburban Life sports reporter Scott Schmid about making the team at Illinois, having to sit out last year, and his goals for the upcoming season.

Schmid: What was the feeling like to make the Illinois team?

Fejedelem: It was definitely an achievement and a goal of mine out of high school. I didn't get the recruitment I wanted, I wanted to play at a top-notch university. I was fortunate to go to St. Xavier, tune my skills and then get to my state's Big Ten team and earn my spot and earn a chance to compete in the Big Ten.

Schmid: How would you describe your two years at St. Xavier?

Fejedelem: That was a blast. Going there as a freshman and starting, and getting an interception in the semifinal playoff game my freshman year, it was an amazing experience and something I will never forget.

Schmid: What are your expectations for camp?

Fejedelem: Going into camp, it's a clean slate, everybody comes into camp ready to go. I'm coming off a successful spring, luckily I was able to stay healthy and get after it. I'm definitely going into camp with expectations to compete. They've got to find the four best guys at defensive back. Whoever the best four guys are, they are going to play. My job and my teammates' job is to compete because we are expecting big things this year.

Schmid: With having to sit out last season due to transferring, what was last year like for your?

Fejedelem: I was practicing every day, the only thing I couldn't do was compete on game day. But to practice every day against this type of talent, it definitely gave me the edge to come in this year and compete. It was definitely to my benefit.

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