College Football 2012 Top 150 Players: No. 140 Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois QB
Another week and we're running through the players here at Your Best 11. This week, we'll hit 140-135, and that starts today with a trip to the Big Ten. Nathan Scheelhaase gets some run to kick your week off.
No. 140: Nathan Scheelhaase, No. 2, Illinois, Quarterback
The Fighting Illini started out 2011 hot, winning six games in a row and climbing into the rankings. They ended the year in equally surprising fashion, losing six games to close the regular season. Part of their success was thanks to quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.
While he is no Denard Robinson, putting up video game-like stats, Scheelhaase is a solid dual-threat quarterback in his own right. He's got some impressive wiggle and ability to extend the play with his legs and an ability to move the ball through the air as well. Last season saw the sophomore grow his contribution in the air, and that was huge for the Illini.
Scheelhaase's greatest strength is his ability to work the offense. The threat of running causes problems for safeties and linebackers, and then Scheelhaase capitalizes on the errors with his arm and legs.
Consistency is a big issue with Scheelhaase. He went from playing some lights-out football early to being average, at best, in the back end of the season. The sophomore from Missouri has to find a way to be a constant with this offense. With a 13 to 8 touchdown-to-interception ratio, you can see the kid is not wildly slinging the football to the defense. He had only one multi-interception game all season. Scheelhaase also never threw below 54 percent as a completion rate. His inconsistency comes with extending drives, making the smart read and getting first downs.
This upcoming season will be an interesting one for the junior; he loses his top target, AJ Jenkins, at the wide receiver position, but he picks up a new head coach in Tim Beckman. Beckman comes to the Illini from Toledo, and one thing he was capable of doing was getting good play out of his quarterbacks. Terrance Owens and Austin Dantin were consistent throwing threats a year ago for the exciting Toledo scheme.
Owens, one of the MAC's most fun players to watch, is very similar to Scheelhaase, so we should get to see Beckman unlock Scheelhaase's potential.
Look for Nathan Scheelhaase to get the Illini into another bowl game but without a weapon on the edge he'll again struggle to break into the top of the Big Ten quarterbacks.
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