Nathan Scheelhaase committed to Illinois late last summer, when Mike Locksley was offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. But he never wavered when Locksley took the head coaching job at New Mexico.
"We kind of knew Locks would at one time or another get a head coaching job somewhere. So it didn't come as a big surprise. Obviously, I would have liked to have him. Coach Locks is a great coach, but he's gonna do well at New Mexico. I'll be excited to see how he does."
New offensive coordinator Mike Schultz is now in place at Illinois, and Nathan has a good first impression of Locksley's replacement.
"I talked to Coach Schultz last week, and we had a great talk. We talked for about 30 minutes about his background, my background. It was a really good talk. He's really excited about the program. He and Coach (Kurt) Beathard the new quarterback coach are coming to visit me Monday."
The 6'-2", 190 pound quarterback is making his official visit to Illinois the weekend of January 23, along with a large number of other top prospects. He is looking forward to it.
"It's gonna be a real good time. I've been up there a few times, and it's always been a good time. There's a lot of big time recruits coming in. I'll be meeting my future teammates. It's exciting. It's the last step in the process."
Scheelhaase has realized the importance of surrounding himself with quality teammates, and he has been calling prospects on his own to encourage their interest in Illinois.
"I've talked to a lot of those guys, just to rally the troops I guess you could say. And try to recruit more players. The more good players you get into the program, the more successful you're going to be. If I can be any help to Coach Zook and his staff, I'll do what I can."
Nathan is looking forward to signing day. He received numerous calls from media and other schools when Locksley left, checking his interest in opening up his recruitment. He has persevered, but he will be glad when it's over.
"It will definitely be a nice weight off the shoulders. No more questions. It's been a difficult process, but it hasn't been too bad."
Kansas City Rockhurst is a powerhouse team yearly, and this past season was no exception. His team came a little short of a state championship, but Nathan had an outstanding high school career.
"We played probably one of the toughest schedules nationwide against teams from four different states. Two of the teams we beat won state championships in their respective states. So we played a fun schedule.
"Obviously, it ended a little short. Whenever you don't win a championship you're going to be disappointed. But now that I've had time to go back and look over my whole high school career, I've got to be thankful that I did win one state championship. There are a lot of great athletes who go through high school and never do it."
Scheelhaase is a student of quarterbacking, and he learns new things daily. He saw definite improvement this year.
"I definitely made a lot of improvement. Mechanics, reading defenses, timing and different things. I'm at one of those positions where you can make great strides within a year, and that's what I try to do every year."
Nathan decided to forego basketball this winter to concentrate on football.
"I didn't play basketball this year. I'd started varsity since sophomore year, but this year I'm just running track in the spring. So I'm just focusing on lifting, getting stronger and faster, and better at quarterback techniques."
Track practice is good conditioning for football, especially for skill position athletes. Nathan is a speedster, so his preferred track events are not surprising.
I do all events from the 100 to the 400. Last year, I did a 22.1 in the 200. I didn't run an open 100 last year, but I ran on the 4 X 100. I was the anchor on our All-State 4 X 400 team. We finished seventh in the state of Missouri last year. My fastest split was 49.8."
Nathan Scheelhaase is one of Illinois' top football recruits this year, and he's hoping to be a pied piper for other top players. He is planning to move to Champaign in early June, prior to the summer academic session. He is looking forward to his new life as an Illini.