Scheelhaase's dad keeps tabs from distance
CHAMPAIGN — Nathan Scheelhaase has heard from Ron Zook, Ron Guenther, Paul Petrino, Reggie Mitchell, Juice Williams and more in the past few weeks.
“There’s been so many people just through the years that have kind of been involved with what I’m doing here and are excited for me,” the Illinois quarterback said before he plays the final college football game of his career against Northwestern this Saturday. “It’s crazy to think they still pay attention, still care, and that I had enough of an influence on their life that they keep up with how I’m doing and what’s going on. That definitely means a lot.”
He’s heard from his dad, too. Even if Nate Creer can’t attend his only son’s final college game. Scheelhaase said the situation involving his father — who was arrested in the Memorial Stadium stands following a fight during Illinois’ game against Michigan State on Oct. 26 and issued a one-year ban from campus — hasn’t affected him too much. But it hasn’t been easy, either.
“It’s been one of those things, just in talking to him and talking to him after games and through the weeks, it’s been just a sense of relief,” Scheelhaase said. “There’s just some struggles and some hard times and some overwhelming things that were tough to deal with. I know it’s tough on him. It’s tough on me. I know he’s still watching. I know he’s still as involved as he can be, obviously from a distance. All that I’ve been involved with over these last four years is something that he’s taken a part of, and it’s no different for these last few games or this Saturday. He’ll still be wishing me the best as he always has.”
Having his wife, Morgan, near his side has helped Scheelhaase. More than he anticipated.
“It’s so important to have a support system that is solid and is there for you,” he said. “To have Morgan here being the biggest supporter I could ever ask for is great. To be able to enjoy the good moments and the bad moments, we were in it together. Whether it was bundled up this last game at Purdue or there for the first game, seeing her consistently the whole year up there watching me meant a whole lot more than I would have expected. I think someday when we go back and talk about the college football days, she’ll know exactly what that was all about because she was involved.”
Scheelhaase has a chance, with a breakout game against the Wildcats, to leave Illinois as the career leader in total offense. He and Williams are the only players in school history with at least 10,000 yards. With 10,272 going into Saturday, Scheelhaase needs 323 yards to break Williams’ record.
Leaving his mark beyond the numbers he puts up, though, is a point of emphasis for Scheelhaase.
“I wanted to be able to walk away from this place and (have people) say, ‘Not only did he do great things on the field, but in this community, what he did with his teammates (and) who he was,’ ” Scheelhaase said. “I hope that parents wanted their kids to watch what I was doing and be able to say, ‘Yeah, that guy’s worth following and worth being like.’ This game is so much bigger than what we’re doing out there on Saturdays. I wanted to make sure that what I did in these four years was worth following.”