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Riedel commits to FHSU football

4/1/2014

By AUSTIN COLBERT

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

For Hays High School senior athlete Clayton Riedel, the most difficult decision he faced wasn't what university to attend next season, but which sport he was going to play while there.

"We were just taking things slow because I didn't know if I wanted to play basketball or football yet," Riedel said on Monday. "Then I went to a basketball showcase this weekend and played in three games down in Kansas City. We were heading back and my mom and dad and I started talking about football and basketball and we ended up talking about Fort Hays and finally came to the conclusion that Fort Hays was a good place for me and that's where I wanted to play football at."

That decision was finalized on Monday with an announcement via Riedel's Facebook and Twitter pages. Despite numerous offers to play basketball or football from junior colleges and small four-year schools across Kansas and Missouri, Riedel is choosing to stay put and walk on to the Fort Hays State University football team next season.

FHSU has already used its allotted scholarships for next year, but should Riedel perform well enough in his first season as a Tiger, he will be in position to earn a scholarship as a sophomore.

"I think it's a great fit for him. I think it's a great fit for Fort Hays," Hays High football coach Ryan Cornelsen said. "Any time you come in and jump from eight man to 11-man and contribute to that team right away, and he did that for us, I think that shows what he's capable of. He's got a lot of upside and I think he's only just barely reached his potential as a football player."

Cornelsen, a FHSU graduate who will take over the football program at Hutchinson High School in the summer, knew Riedel and his family from their days in WaKeeney. Prior to coming to Hays High, Riedel attended Trego Community High School and played eight-man football. Cornelsen, while finishing up his degree at FHSU in the early 2000s, spent two seasons as an assistant at Trego and even coached some relatives of Riedel's.

Riedel transferred to Hays High this year and played one season under Cornelsen, where he made an instant impact as a standout defensive back and wide receiver. He was also an important reserve player for the Indians' record-setting 23-2 basketball team.

At Fort Hays, the 6-foot-5 Riedel said Tigers' head coach Chris Brown would like to put as much as 35 pounds of muscle on him and turn him into a defensive end or linebacker, with an option of either playing tight end or wide receiver still a possibility.

"I know at that level it's all based around speed. You take a kid as fast as Clayton and drop him down to a linebacker spot, and then you really got something. I'm sure that's what Chris is seeing," Cornelsen said. "He can see the potential and the amount of growth that he can have as a football player in the next few years and really turn into a fine player."

Riedel, who is also a standout track athlete in high school, said he has interest in running for FHSU, if the opportunity arises.

Among the reasons Riedel decided to go to FHSU over other colleges or universities was that it was close to home, a four-year school opposed to two year, and he felt comfortable with the coaching staff and the direction of the program.

"I think there is going to be a big turnaround in the program. And their facilities are really good, too. Those are top end," Riedel said. "And their coach seems like he is a good leader. I think he is going to take them places."