Scheelhaase sets all-time yardage record

By By: Stephen Bourbon

Looking back on a 37-34 loss to Northwestern on Senior Day on Saturday, quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase had an effective day statistically, but one interception in the fourth quarter would haunt him in the loss.

A somber Scheelhaase was swamped by reporters as the final player in the players’ meeting room.

But offensive coordinator Bill Cubit squeezed his way through the wall of reporters to give his quarterback a hug and bring a smile to Scheelhaase’s face.  

The senior broke Juice Williams’ school record of 10,594 total career yards by finishing with 10,634. In addition, Scheelhaase broke the school record for completion percentage in a season at 66.7. His 48 career starts are tied for most in school history.

“I think the seniors have done a great job leaving their legacy,” wide receiver Miles Osei said. “Offensively, some of these guys it’s their fourth coordinator, third for me, so having that, it’s hard to buy in every time. But our team really bought into each other.”

Cubit is Scheelhaase’s fourth offensive coordinator in five seasons in Champaign, and Scheelhaase’s final campaign would prove to be his statistical best. Scheelhaase finished with career highs in completions, attempts, yards, passing touchdowns, total touchdowns and quarterback efficiency in 2013.

“All those guys, they believed from the first day I got here, and I don’t know why,” Cubit said. “As a coach, you sit there and you’re proud of those kids. I’m really grateful that I had this year with those kids.”

Osei and Tim Beckman both said Scheelhaase would have traded the record for a win Saturday. Cubit said the quarterback’s presence in the locker room, not the record book, is his greatest personal legacy.

“Knowing Nate, the most important thing is his image as a teammate,” Cubit said. “This is really good for him, but in time, it’ll mean more to him. But if you really know Nate …”

Cubit paused, looked down at his stat sheet and folded it in half again. When he looked up again, tears were in his eyes, and he finally managed with a cracked voice:

“… he’s just a great kid.” 

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