Most important Illini

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No. 1: Nathan Scheelhaase, quarterback.

Why he's important: The most effective freshman starting quarterback in school history is on the Maxwell and Davey O'Brien award watch lists. He finished the 2010 season strong, throwing 13 touchdown passes and only one interception in the final seven games. Scheelhaase was at his best in the Texas Bowl, hitting 18 of 23 passes for 242 yards and running for another 53 yards and a touchdown. He had four games with at least 100 yards rushing and set the school record for rushing yards (868) by a quarterback. Illinois offensive coordinator Paul Petrino wants the number to reach 1,000, while Scheelhaase improves his passing totals. He has added size and strength since coming to Illinois in 2009.

Fast fact: Had multiple college options after a standout career at Kansas City Rockhurst, picking Illinois over Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma and others.

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