Nathan Scheelhaase sets all-time yards record in final game

Editor’s note: The Daily Illini sports desk sits down Sunday nights and decides which Illinois athlete or coach is our Illini of the Week. Athletes and coaches are evaluated by individual performance and contribution to team success.

“It’s crazy that all of those moments are in the past now and everything that we’ll say about our college football days will start with ‘Remember when.’” 

–Nathan Scheelhaase

Remember when Nathan Scheelhaase was a freshman, redshirting his first season on campus? You probably don’t. You probably remember Juice Williams cementing his name as one of Illinois’ best ever, surpassing Kurt Kittner as Illinois’ all-time leader in yards.

Remember when Scheelhaase broke Williams’ record? You should. It happened four days ago. The fifth-year senior broke the record in his last game in an Illini uniform, a 37-34 loss to rival Northwestern at Memorial Stadium.

Scheelhaase finished his career with 10,634 career yards — 8,568 passing, 2,066 rushing. He finished 40 yards ahead of Williams’ 10,594. 

There have been more losses than wins in Scheelhaase’s time as Illinois’ starting quarterback. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t moments worth remembering.

Remember his first touchdown: A leaping, somersaulting score over a Northern Illinois defender on Sept. 18, 2010.

Remember the 67-65 shootout loss to Michigan that first season, when Scheelhaase threw for three touchdowns and ran for another.

Remember the 50-14 win over Northwestern at Wrigley Field.

Remember the 55-yard touchdown run against Baylor in the Texas Bowl. Remember when he outplayed Robert Griffin III.

Remember Arizona State under the lights in 2011. Remember the comeback against Northwestern two weeks later.

Remember Illinois’ first back-to-back bowl wins. Ever. 

Remember the tough times, too: The six straight losses in 2011, the firing of his head coach, Ron Zook. The 2012 season.

Remember when Scheelhaase came out firing his senior season, passing for more than 300 yards on six occasions. Remember his 10,634 career yards, his 55 career passing touchdowns and his 19 career rushing touchdowns.

But most of all, remember Nathan Scheelhaase for the way he led his team through adversity — like a professional.

Sean and Stephen can be reached at [email protected] and  @sean_hammond and @steve_bourbon.