Last year couldn’t have been a better start for Bismarck, N.D. native Carson Wentz. But he’s done talking about that. Wentz is out to prove that this season, the Bison are still the team to beat in the FCS and the mountain of expectations stemming from his national media attention is well worth the time.
The Internet was beside itself when NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. picked North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz as the third best senior quarterback prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft.
“Don’t know him?” Kiper said. “You will. Wentz doesn’t only offer prototypical pocket-passer size (6-5, 230 pounds) – he can also really move.”
Another Internet explosion came Wentz’s way when Bleacher Report came out with a headline one lazy July afternoon titled, “Can Carson Wentz Become the 2016 NFL Draft’s Top QB Prospect?”
“In terms of a comparison, Wentz’s 2014 tape is reminiscent of Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and Carolina’s Derek Anderson,” concluded featured columnist Ian Wharton. “Each are big, athletic quarterbacks with strong arms.”
The article was published after Wentz was named one of the Elite 11 Camp counselors. He was joined by the top Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks in the nation to help with activities for the top-18 high school quarterbacks in the country.
Wentz roomed with Ohio State Carson Wentz showed his toughness last year with 642 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground. quarterback JT Barrett and made acquaintances with Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, Arizona State’s Mike Bercovici, Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs and Notre Dame’s Malik Zaire.
“I even got the chance to give a speech to them (campers) and asked them to raise their hand if they knew where North Dakota was,” Wentz said. “About an eighth of them raised their hands, it was interesting. I think I earned a lot of guys’ respect out there and got to know a lot of guys, so it was a lot of fun.”
If there’s one thing Wentz didn’t accomplish last year that’s within grasp this season, it’s building NDSU into a national brand by remaining in the discussion as one of the top quarterbacks entering the draft and ultimately, hearing his name called on draft day.[/text_output]
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[text_output]But draft projections don’t win you any games and when you have a target on your back from four straight national championships, the season-opener is all that matters for Wentz.
“I feel that there is still a lot to prove,” Wentz said after returning from the Elite 11 Camp. “I’m not satisfied with what happened last year and I want more.”
Wentz threw for 1,675 yards and threw 17 of his 25 touchdowns in the second half of last season, leaving Bison fans wanting more from “one of their own” North Dakota natives. He was also intercepted 10 times and went the first eight quarters of the season without a touchdown pass.
Wentz is hoping for a better start to this season with a trip to Missoula, Mont.
Last season against Montana, Wentz was 16-of-24 passing with 167 yards and found a wide-open Kevin Vaadeland in the back corner of the end zone in the third quarter for the only Bison touchdown of the game.
Montana will return six starters from a defense that held Wentz’s offense to one touchdown in five red zone trips last season.
ESPN will begin its college football coverage this fall by featuring the NDSU/Montana match as its FCS Kickoff, played the Saturday prior to the first FBS games.
With Wentz in the national spotlight to start the year, beginning the journey back to the top of the FCS is shaping up to be a great test right off the bat in Missoula. It will also guarantee everybody in the college football world will know what Wentz and the NDSU Bison are made of this season as they attempt to finish like they have the last four years – as champions.[/text_output]