Jeremy Werner

Illini support staffer Nathan Scheelhaase filling in for Hardy Nickerson on the road

Former Illini quarterback filling in as a recruiter as defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson recovers from appendectomy

CHAMPAIGN - When a new NCAA rule allows teams to hire a 10th assistant coach starting Jan. 9, Nathan Scheelhaase seems to be a great fit for the open spot at Illinois.

The former Illinois quarterback, currently serving as a support staffer on Lovie Smith's staff, is getting another trial run.

With Hardy Nickerson recovering from an emergency appendectomy, Scheelhaase temporarily is filling in on the recruiting trail.

The Illini petitioned the NCAA for a waiver to allow Scheelhaase, currently serving as an offensive analyst, to recruit players off-campus. NCAA rules otherwise prohibit non-assistants from recruiting on the road. Nickerson had an emergency appendectomy at St. Vincent's Medical Center Riverside. The Illinois defensive coordinator was in the area recruiting.

Scheelhaase has visited several in-state programs, including Springfield, Quincy, Belleville East and Belleville West.

Scheelhaase has some experience on the recruiting trail. Following Tim Beckman's dismissal in August 2015, Scheelhaase served as an interim assistant coach under interim head coach Bill Cubit and helped recruit the Class of 2016. He also was the initial connection to 2017 cornerback signee Nate Hobbs, whom Scheelhaase knew from his time as a youth pastor in Louisville, where he lived after graduation.

Scheelhaase, a Kansas City native and former four-star recruit, was a four-year starting quarterback at Illinois from 2010-13 who is the Illini's career total offense leader.

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