CHAMPAIGN — Nathan Scheelhaase has handled the media at Illinois the last four years.
Aaron Bailey received his initial glimpse Tuesday night after Illinois conducted its first practice since losing 39-19 Saturday at Nebraska.
“The shorter, the better,” Scheelhaase said with a grin when asked what advice he’d give to Bailey on dealing with the media. “That’s probably the best thing for a freshman. They might tend to talk a little bit too much and end up saying something they’ll regret.”
The true freshman quarterback from Bolingbrook didn’t spout off any sound bites that will make for popular YouTube videos later on in his career. Didn’t provide any fodder for social media, opposing bulletin boards or online message boards.
He offered tidbits about where he likes to eat on campus (Noodles & Company), how many wristbands he wears (four) and what his plans are for the bye weekend (a trip home to see his alma mater play Friday at Homewood-Flossmoor).
Freshmen aren’t allowed to talk to the media until Big Ten play starts per Tim Beckman’s team rule. The Illinois coach gave his blessing for the highly coveted recruit in the Class of 2013 to conduct his first round of interviews since he started practicing at Illinois in early August.
“I’m just blessed to be here, and it feels good to finally talk to (the media),” Bailey said. “We’re above .500. That’s all that matters if we’re winning games. I just try and contribute the best I can.”
Bailey, who has played in all five games so far, said he’s never quite sure during a game when offensive coordinator Bill Cubit will call on him.
“You kind of get the sense if it’s third and short,” Bailey said. “He always tells me to be ready. I just wait on the sidelines until he calls the formation, and I just go out there and do my job.”
Nerves haven’t factored too much into his first season.
“There was a lot of anticipation,” he said. “My dream has always been to play as a true freshman, so when I got the opportunity to play, I tried to grasp it.”