Player Spotlight: Illinois QB Nathan Scheelhaase

Story posted October 31, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Jeff Jezewski

Penn State will host the Illinois Fighting Illini Saturday at noon. Illinois will be led by dual-threat quarterback, Nathan Scheelhaase. The 6-3, 205 pound Kansas City native, will look to bring his career record against the Nittany Lions to an even 2-2.  

Scheelhaase has been one of the lone bright spots for Illinois this year. Illinois is 3-4 and hasn’t won since September 28th, against Miami of Ohio. Despite the team’s struggles, Scheelhaase is having a solid year. He has completed over 65 percent of his passes, while throwing for 1,649 yards and 12 touchdowns. Scheelhaase has also added two touchdowns on the ground for the Fighting Illini.

After a largely inconsistent 2012 season, Scheelhaase has taken a large step forward. During the 2012 season, Scheelhaase threw for 1,361 yards with only four touchdowns and eight interceptions. Scheelhaase has already topped these totals, while playing much more efficiently.

In past games against the Nittany Lions, Scheelhaase has found some success. In three career matchups against Penn State, he has thrown for 484 yards and two touchdowns, while completing 64.2 percent of his passes. He also had success carrying the ball, rushing for 157 yards on 33 carries. Illinois defeated Penn State 33-13 in 2010, behind 212 total yards and a touchdown from the then redshirt freshman, Scheelhaase.

The former four-star recruit chose the Illini way back in 2009, after receiving offers from Stanford, Nebraska, Iowa and Oklahoma. Scheelhaase posed as a solid dual-threat quarterback in his first two seasons. He took a big step back last year as he started 10 of the Illini’s 13 games with subpar results before resurrecting his career with a great start to this season.

Heading into this weekend’s matchup with Penn State, Scheelhaase is just 70 total yards short of Kurt Kittner and second place on Illinois’ career total offense list. Barring injury, Scheelhaase will attain this goal and finish his career second behind Juice Williams on the all-time list.

During Big Ten Media Day back in July, Scheelhaase spoke on the matchup with Penn State throughout his career and this upcoming matchup.

“Going into Penn State my first year and winning was a great experience and it’s one of the most exciting places to play in the country,” Scheelhaase said. “I always look forward to playing them and they’re a well-coached team.”

Jeff Jezewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jvj5228@psu.edu.