Former Fighting Illini defensive end and NFL standout Fred Wakefield returned to the Illinois family to serve as Director of West Coast Development and Donor Relations for the University of Illinois I FUND and the Office of Athletics Development in June 2018. He operates out of Phoenix, Ariz., where he has worked in the private sector for the past three years.
Wakefield, a Tuscola, Ill. native, played for the Illini from 1997-2000, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2000 at defensive end. A team captain as a senior, he ranks fourth on the single-season and career tackles-for-loss list and third for career quarterback sacks and seventh in season sacks in the Illinois record books. In 2000, he led the team with 21 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, nine of those were sacks.
After eight years in the National Football League – six with the Arizona Cardinals and two with the Oakland Raiders – Wakefield returned to the central Illinois area where he served in the financial industry with Northwestern Mutual and in the health care sector. While back in Illinois, he also returned to the University of Illinois to obtain his MBA.
In Phoenix, Wakefield has been working in sales and as the Director of Strategic Alliances for a Bay Area cybersecurity consultancy.
Wakefield also served as the Board President for Crisis Nursery. He and his wife, Casey, have three children – a son, Jamison and daughters, Carlee and Emma.