The One That Got Away

Every once in awhile in this business you run across a recruit who's just plain fun to talk to and a good guy. Nathan Scheelhaase, the 4* QB recruit from Rockhurst High School, is one of those guys.

With rumors flying around the Internet faster than Usain Bolt running the 100 meter dash, the breaking story on Monday was that Nathan Scheelhaase was visiting Kansas State. It had to be true...we read it on the Internet, right? In the words of Lee Corso..."Not so fast, my friend."

Laughing, Scheelhaase was straight up when finally caught up with the star Quarterback: "I don't know how that got started, honestly. But it's all over the Internet about this visit to Kansas State," said the Rockhurst Senior. As a reporter covering Kansas State recruiting, that's not exactly what you want to hear when you are covering a potential recruit - but it is the truth.

In general, recruiting is fluid with many twists and turns. But then throw in a star QB with a postal address close to campus and recruiting fans go wild, following every change in a prospects recruitment. And in regard to Scheelhaase, the excitement or wishful thinking in this case among the Wildcat faithful is easily understood. With Josh Freeman departing and no clear cut starter in place to run the potential spread-option for the Wildcats offense next fall, KState fans should be excused of their dreams of seeing a local talent such as Nathan suiting up in Purple.

"I hadn't really heard from Kansas State too much. I received a few letters from Coach Prince, but that was about it. They didn't really recruit me," said Scheelhaase. In going through his current recruiting process, Scheelhaase had nothing but praise for the rejuvenated Bill Snyder: "He's a Legend. I have a lot of respect for him and he's putting together a good staff in Manhattan." Well, that's a positive, right? Again with Corso...Not so fast, my friend. Scheelhaase went on to say: "Coach Snyder called and talked with my father around Christmas time. They were at Iowa together, so they've known each other a long time. But really, they were just too late to the process."

The thing is, Illinois had locked in the services of Scheelhaase quite some time ago. Not only that, but the Illini staff should be given top marks for dealing a straight hand to Nathan and his family.

"I knew there might be some staff changes. In fact, when we went for my unofficial visit they told us right then that the possibility existed that OC Mike Locksley could be tabbed for a Head Coaching spot. And there were some other staff changes that might take place. But they assured us that it's still Ron Zook's team and the offense would remain the same."

It takes the right kind of coaching staff to be so candid in where a particular recruit fits into their scheme and then the overall team, especially when that recruit is so highly touted. But the Illini coaching staff did just that, stating that some staff changes might be coming but they still wanted Scheelhaase to be part of the changes coming. A point not lost on the Scheelhaase family, that kind of openness was a big selling point. "We just felt that, if they were this honest during recruiting, they would take care of me when I get into the program."

It's easy when talking to lots of recruits to focus just on the ones who are interested in Kansas State. Hey...that's my job. But then I take a step back and remind myself that these are young men making a very important decision. One that will certainly affect their next four years and potentially affect the rest of their lives. We can all fuss and fidget about each and every recruit who's ever been whispered to be thinking about visiting the program. We can all dream wistfully about future Saturdays filled with roaring crowds at The Bill as the 'Cats roll up more victories than you can shake a stick at and the recruits who are responsible for those victories. But we should not bemoan the ones who get away. Not too much.

And when you do find yourself in that mindset, of wondering "Why couldn't we get so and so?"...just take a few minutes to think of Nathan Scheelhaase and remember he, like many others, are good guys who found their right fit. We owe them all our support, and I for one will follow eagerly Nathan's successes in the Big Ten. Now let's concentrate on those still left out there, recruiting always continues on.

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