50 days to Camp Rantoul

50 days to Camp Rantoul

Counting down the 50 most important Illini

No. 50: Clayton Fejedelem, DB

Why he’s important: He could start. Seriously. Public address announcer Gene Honda might need to repeat the Lemont native’s last name several times (FEJ-uh-lem) before any games at Memorial Stadium. Fejedelem is in the mix for playing time at strong safety. With Earnest Thomas lining up at the STAR position this season, Taylor Barton is the early favorite to start at strong safety. But if he falters like he did at times last season, Fejedelem might be next in line. He redshirted last season after transferring from St. Xavier, an NAIA school in Chicago (155 tackles, eight interceptions in two seasons), but made a name for himself during the 2013 spring game with eight tackles and one interception. He didn’t have quite the same effect in the most recent spring game (three tackles), but his physical approach in the spring has endeared himself to the Illinois coaching staff. Doesn’t have the awe-inspiring athleticism you will see from other defensive backs in the Big Ten, but he could factor prominently into Illinois’ defense this fall.

Fast fact: Fejedelem may be a new name to some Illinois fans, but he’s not a new name on these pages. The former defensive back at Lemont was a 2010 First-Team All-State selection by The News-Gazette after helping the Indians to the Class 6A state quarterfinals and winning South Suburban Blue MVP honors.  

Last year’s ranking: NA

Tomorrow: No. 49