It feels like he’s been playing at Illinois for ten years now.
Mostly because he’s played 26 total career games and started since he was a freshmen in 2008 coming out of Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Mo. where he was the Gatorade Player of the Year.
Nathan Scheelhaase knows this has to be the year though.
This has to be the year for him to turn the corner and lead Illinois to a big bowl game. He’s won two bowl games the last two season, but with disappointing back to back 7-6 seasons. Scheelhaase knows that isn’t going to be good enough this year.
With new coach Tim Beckman stepping in this season, he will bring along the spread system, an offense Scheelhaase may be able to thrive in with short and accurate throws. It gives the dual-threat quarterback at chance to build on his 63.2 completion percentage in 2011.
The Illini started their 2011 campaign 6-0 and nationally ranked before losing six straight, ending Scheelhaase’s Heisman hopes for good. Him and his teammates however, remained quite competitive in a stretch the saw Ohio State, Purdue, Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin all in a row.
It’s now or never though for Scheelhaase. He has the talent and ability to lead this team to a eight or nine win season.
Week six and seven will be big tests on the road against Wisconsin and Michigan — two perfect weeks for Scheelhaase to show he is really Heisman material. That shouldn’t be on his mind right now though. He knows he has the talent.
Now he’s got to show he can get this team over the hump.
Will Wilson is a writer for Rant Sports covering College Football and the Big Ten Conference.