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Illinois News: Underdog Safety Clayton Fejedelem is making his presence known

Today in #ILLINI news

Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

"Cubit named Fejedelem a team captain for last week's game against Nebraska. The giant leap from the NAIA to leader of a Big Ten defense was complete, as improbability lost to determination in a rout."


With defense being the story in Illinois' big win over Nebraska this past Saturday, senior safety Clayton Fejedelem was at the center of the picture. Other than snagging a key interception during this third quarter, he also finished with eight tackles. What many may not know is that Fejedelem is not an originally recruited Division 1 talent: he started off in the NAIA.

Not highly recruited out of high school, "Fej" spent his first two years in college at St. Xavier in Chicago, leading the Cougars to a 2011 title. During the 2012 season, he began working to transition to the next level, one that he had always dreamed of: Big Ten football. After sending out tapes of his NAIA days, Illinois assistant Alex Golesh promised Fejedelem a walk-on spot if he could get into the school. The rest is history.

Fejedelem started getting playing time his junior season, taking over for much of the injured Illini secondary. After debuting during Big Ten play, he went on to gain more snaps over the season, recording a career-high 12 tackles in last year's win over Northwestern. This offseason he was put on scholarship by then-head coach Tim Beckman.

After his big game against Nebraska, Bill Cubit named Fej a team captain. It's pretty safe to say the hard work payed off.


- Illinois Athletics

The university just released a hype video for the upcoming matchup between Illinois and the Northwestern Wildcats this November the 28th at Soldier Field. Given NU is undefeated and ranked #13 in the AP top 25, this should be one of the better battles for "The Land of Lincoln". Check the video below:



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