Illinois Football: The 30 greatest Illini players of all time

Illinois football. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Illinois football. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois football
Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois football. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

This might be a controversial pick to be on this list, but when you have a quarterback who can both throw and run the football well, then you have to put him on this list. Nathan Scheelhaase fits that mold and was a great player for the Illini.

There are so many stat categories where you will find Scheelhaase’s name. Let’s start with his passing. He is No. 3 all time in career passing yardage for the Illini with 8,568 yards. His best passing season came in 2013 where he threw for 3,272 yards and that ranks No. 4 all time in single-season passing yardage.

Scheelhaase’s 55 passing touchdowns rank No. 3 all time in career touchdown passes. That 2013 season also saw him throw for 21 touchdowns, which ranks No. 5 all time in single-season touchdown passes. He was a dynamic player for the program, too.

As a quarterback, Scheelhaase still managed to rush for a total of 2,066 yards during his career, which is No. 16 all time in career rushing yards. He is No. 1 in program history in total offensive yardage with 10,634 yards. This guy was one of the best to ever do it.

The abilities of Scheelhaase helped Illinois get to multiple bowl games. They won the 2010 Texas Bowl over Robert Griffin III and Baylor, 38-14. Illinois then made the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and beat UCLA 20-14 behind the leadership of Scheelhaase.

Scheelhaase didn’t have the accolades like some of the players on this list. He wasn’t recognized as one of the best players in the county either. But he was a great player for this program. He helped lead Illinois to two bowl victories and is the all-time offensive yardage leader in the history of Illinois football. He is a legend.