Nathan Scheelhaase: Taking the smart read
CHAMPAIGN — He remembers the first time he saw Terrelle Pryor. And the first game he played against him is still a vivid — albeit unhappy — memory.
Now, Pryor is gone. And Nathan Scheelhaase wishes there was another way.
The Illinois sophomore won't be one of those who badmouths the former Ohio State quarterback. When the Buckeyes visit Memorial Stadium on Oct. 15, Scheelhaase will miss the other No. 2 across the field.
"Definitely," Scheelhaase said. "Ohio State is a team everyone in the conference looks forward to playing. In our mind, they still beat us last year, whether they took away the win or not.
"As a quarterback, you're competitive with the other quarterbacks in the conference. That was something I was looking forward to."
Scheelhaase first met Pryor at the U.S. Army All-American bowl in San Antonio. Scheelhaase attended as a junior, the same year Pryor was a senior starter in the game.
"I remember watching him, thinking how great of an athlete he was and how big he was," Scheelhaase said. "I watched his highlight tapes when he was back in Pennsylvania."
Why watch Pryor? Because, like Scheelhaase, he is a dual-threat quarterback. Different body types and no tattoos for Scheelhaase, but still the same basic style of play.
"All of the sudden, we're in the same conference," Scheelhaase said.
Initially given a five-game penalty by the NCAA, Pryor later decided to leave the program. Before he got pushed out.
Pryor's problems serve as a warning to other athletes. All actions have consequences.
"When you do make mistakes, you can get torn to shreds," Scheelhaase said. "You don't want to be that bottom line running across ESPN saying you messed something up for your school.
"That's what really means the most to me. In making a mistake, it's not just myself it's harming. It's my parents. It's Coach (Ron) Zook. It's Coach (Paul) Petrino. It's Coach (Jeff) Brohm. It's the University of Illinois. It's everyone that has stepped foot on this campus. It's the state. It's every fan in the state. When you are looked at as that player for the team, you want to be sending out positive messages, you want to be doing positive things in the community."
Scheelhaase said he doesn't consider Pryor's mistakes "super severe."
"But in the same breath, you've got to know the rules," Scheelhaase said. "You've got to know what's right, what's wrong. I'm sure he has some things he would have done differently."
Pryor was in the high-profile college position, a BMOC. Today, he's waiting to hear from the NFL.
"It's disheartening, but he's still got an opportunity to play the game of football," Scheelhaase said. "He's still got the opportunity to play at the highest level. He's got to be able to take that and run with it. He can't let that mistake ruin his career. He can still do some great things."