The Big Ten preseason Top 25 player rankings, based on past performance and potential impact for 2011, continue with ...
No. 21: Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois, So., 6-3, 195
2010 numbers: Started all 13 games; completed 155 of 264 passes for 1,825 yards with 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions; 185 rushes for 865 yards and five touchdowns; one reception for 23 yards
Why he's here: Scheelhaase is the biggest reason why Illinois could finally mount consistent success in the coming years. He showed excellent poise and playmaking ability as a freshman, improving as the season went along and specifically as a passer between the end of the regular season and the Texas Bowl. If not for Wisconsin running back James White, Scheelhaase would have been the obvious pick for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. An explosive athlete, Scheelhaase could be special if he continues to make strides as a passer, as he did during spring practice. He's a good fit in Paul Petrino's offense and could make Illinois a dangerous team in the Leaders division this fall.