Rayden Clingenpeel, a standout athlete from Hoopeston Area High School in Hoopeston, recently announced his plans to enroll at Augustana University in Rock Island in the fall and continue his football career as a member of Coach Steve Bell’s Vikings.
A 6’ 2”, 310-pound offensive lineman, Clingenpeel was a three-year letter winner for coaches Trey Stille and Matthew Leskis at Hoopeston Area.
Clingenpeel also wrestled for Coach Chris Kelnhofer’s Cornjerkers.
Clingenpeel spoke with The Chronicle last week about his football career and hopes for the future.
Clingenpeel got start in football at the age of 5.
“It was the very first sport I ever played,” he said.
Clingenpeel kept with football until he was 13 and then picked the sport back up when he entered high school.
Asked what kept him interested in football through the years, Clingenpeel pointed to his love of the game.
“I got into it at an young age and it was one of the first things I enjoyed doing,” he said. “I felt like I was good at it at a young age and so I kind of had the drive of ‘I could be good at this, I could go far at this.’”
Clingenpeel has been an offensive lineman for his entire football career.
Asked to recall his fondest football memories, Clingenpeel recalled his sophomore year when the Cornjerkers won their first homecoming game in several years.
“It kind of change the entire feel of the whole school,” he said. “The school started backing us more. That homecoming win really got everybody in the whole community hyped up about the football team.”
Asked about some of the lessons he feels he’s taken away from his time as a player, Clingenpeel said he’s learned that character values are very important.
“You have to keep determined. You always have to have teamwork. You all have to have a common goal and to not focus on individual stats and individual standards,” he said.
Looking to the future, Clingenpeel said he visited multiple colleges when considering his options for where to continue his football career and Augustana stood out for him.
“Augustana made it feel like I belong there,” he said. “The coaches knew where I was from, they’ve kept in contact with me this entire time and they just made it feel like there was an actual brotherhood at that school.”
Clingenpeel is excited about Augustana’s football team for next season.
“In my opinion, we have a talented group coming into Augustana,” he said.
For Clingenpeel, playing his first season at Augustana will be a chance to make up for some of the struggles Hoopeston Area faced in his final season.
“Personally, I’ll be playing with a chip on my shoulder because of the fact that we went 0-9 in my senior year of high school,” he said. “I feel like this is my chance to go and prove that development does take time and that you achieve things you haven’t yet achieved.”
Rayden is the son of P.J. Clingenpeel of Hoopeston, Illinois.
A member of Future Farmers of America, he is anticipating a business administration major at Augustana.
Clingenpeel joins a Viking program with an outstanding tradition that includes four NCAA Division III national championships, 21 College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin titles, 23 CCIW Players of the Year and 33 Academic All-America selections. Bell, who has compiled a 130-76 record in 20 years as a collegiate head coach, will be in his sixth season at Augustana in 2020.