Carson Wentz

Built To Last – Offense

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Photography by J. Alan Paul Photography

#22 – King Frazier

 

KingFrazier

  • 2015 Year: Junior
  • Position: Running Back
  • Hometown: Greenwood, Mo.
  • High School: Lee’s Summit High School
  • 16 games played, 111 rushing attempts, 616 rushing yards, five total touchdowns
  • 2014 Nebraska transfer

What’s the biggest thing you’re going to take away from the seniors?

“Just really the leadership aspect of it. Walking in here and not really knowing what Bison Pride is, what Bison Nation is all about. I’m glad I got to come to this team and be apart of what we did this year and learn behind the seniors, Dudzik, Heags, and Crock played a good role for me and they meant a lot. I can’t thank those boys enough.”

A lot of FCS teams have FBS transfers playing a big role; you’re kind of the only one at NDSU. How do you feel like your first year here was different than the guys that came here right away?

“Me coming from Nebraska, I picked up on a lot of things from Rex Burkehead, he’s a former running back at Nebraska and Amir Abdulah who is another running back up there that’s going into the draft this year. I mean just learning things from those guys really helped out a lot, me coming here and learning from John really helped out a lot. All that together has really helped me out a lot. I feel like it really made me a better player. I think going to Nebraska right away when I was 18 and coming here. I mean things would’ve still worked out for me. I really liked what I did by going to Nebraska first and then coming here.”

King Frazier1

What’s you impression of Bison Nation?

“I love it. It’s really nice. It’s crazy; they travel just as well as advertised. It was really nice seeing all the fans down in Frisco. I was not expecting that many fans, but they were all there. It was basically a home game. I loved it.”

Is that something Klieman used in his pitch to get you here?

“That was one of the big things he said. He said the fans travel everywhere we go. Coming from Nebraska, they have a big fan base also, but I mean Bison Nation is probably the best.”

How do you stay hungry after coming here and winning a championship your first year?

“Right now I’m just driven to do it as a starter this year. As the guys that can help lead us. I think I’m playing for the guys that were before me, you know. Just to keep the tradition going.”

#16 – RJ Urzendowski

RJ Urzendowski

  • 2015 Year: Sophomore
  • Position: Wide Receiver
  • Hometown: Omaha, Neb.
  • High School: Creighton Prep
  • 16 games played, 32 receptions, 626 receiving yards, five receiving touchdowns
  • Go-ahead touchdown in FCS quarterfinals against South Dakota State

As the season went along, what’s one thing you were more prepared for with each game?

“I just think I improved every week learning a little more each week and getting more comfortable as the weeks went along. Getting more chemistry with Carson as the season went along so that helped prepare me.”

Does it come down to something as simple as watching tape better?

“The first few games I kind of ran around with my head cut off a little bit. Didn’t really know exactly what was going on but it took a little bit to adjust to the speed of the game but I think I improved every week and got more comfortable with it.”

RJ Urzendowski1

Photo by Darren Gibbins

What was going through your mind before you took the field for that last drive?

“I just tried to stay calm in that moment. We had to change a couple signals so it was an intense situation. We just had to stay calm through everything. In the 2 minute situation everything is going really fast so you don’t have too much time to sit and think about it.”

Did you know Carson was going to be looking at you primarily?

“It depends on the look. The last one I had a pretty good feeling it was coming my way based on the blitz and the coverage. I’m confident with myself and the other guys and he was going to find the open receiver.”

How did you find out about Vraa coming back?

“I found out like everyone did, based off Twitter. It was super exciting and I’m very excited for him and that’s a boost for the offense and the receivers for sure.”

What’s it mean for the whole position group to have him return for another year?

 “It’s huge. He’s been through it all. He’s been here for five now six years and he’s seen it all so now he can make the process easier for all the younger guys.”

What are you going to take from Trevor’s game to help you in the future?

“He’s a master of all the little things. The downfield blocking, anything Trevor just has a great attention to detail and he was a great vocal leader for us and our group. Out in practice he was always keeping us on target. In games, he’s always doing what the coaches asked and all the little things that don’t get noticed.”

What do you need to improve on?

“A lot of things. Other than the strength and speed stuff, I would say my blocking needs to improve and that will help with more strength. Overall, route running. I need to be sharper in and out of my breaks.”

Have you had a signature moment where you realize what Bison Pride is all about?

 “It was in that Iowa State game. We were down 14-0 and I looked over at Trevor and he was completely calm and even though we were down he was like, ‘it’s fine, we’re going to win this game, and it’s all good.’ Then we came back. I started to realize it at that point and what this team was all about and then throughout the entire season with our comebacks and stuff like that.”

Why did you choose the number 16?

“I didn’t have a choice with it. This is what they gave me.”

Well you know who had it before, right?

“Definitely. It’s pretty special.”

Well the way you’re playing people might forget who wore it before you.

“(Laughs) Probably not. You can’t forget about him.”

 

#9 – Carey Woods

CareyWoods

  • 2015 Year: Junior
  • Position: Wide Receiver
  • Hometown: Bemidji, Minn.
  • High School: Bemidji High School
  • 31 games played, three starts 28 pass receptions, 278 receiving yards, one touchdown
  • 2013 MVFC Honor Roll

Individually, how do you think your performance was this year?

“I think it was a little down from what I had for my expectations. But I mean, I fell into a role and I had to do what I had to do to help the team out in general. If that meant running blocking, I would do it. I had to do what I had to just keep playing.”

New number?

“Number 83 wasn’t really working for me, but nothing will be official until after Spring ball.”

What does it feel like for you underclassmen to send out the seniors with another championship?

“It feels great. I think for all of us younger players, the leadership they had from the older guys I think that just really showed throughout the whole year because we had a lot of doubters. The senior class just basically took hold of everything and that’s when we bought in because the senior class took it in their hands. And that’s when everybody bought in.”

How do you guys stay hungry?

“I think we just got to go out and do it again. If we want to consider ourselves a dynasty we just have to keep winning. We got to keep this thing rolling and we have a lot of players coming back to do it. We have a lot of players coming back. It’s a good possibility. I think especially with Coach Kramer, he won’t let us not stay hungry. So I think we’ll be ready to go once we start going again for next year, getting back to it.”

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What was your reaction when Zach decided to come back?

“I saw him yesterday when he finally told me. He told everyone and tweeted it out and I was so happy. Having a dude like that coming back, somebody who is not only a great player, but he’s also a great leader. He leads more by example and that’s something we’re going to be missing with Trev (Trevor Gebhart), because Trev was more of a vocal leader. But he’s just a likable guy. Not very many people know this but we’re related through marriage. We’re related. My mom’s cousin with his Dad’s side of the family or something like that. We’re a ways apart. We got to joke going on right now when his mom sees me, his mom and dad call me their cousin. I was just so happy when he said he was coming back. It’s going to be a fun year next year with him.”

What was it like to witnessing Carson Wentz development?

“That’s crazy. Just because coming in like a guy like Brock Jensen and not really knowing what they were going to get out of him and just seeing him get better and better every week. He just kept getting better. It was just great to see and just fun to be around because I think he makes everybody on this team better. With just him being out there playing and he makes everybody else play that much better. He’s one of those dudes that has an effect on everybody.”

What’s his ceiling?

“I don’t think there is a ceiling for him. I really think in the future he could be playing football for a living. He’s a very smart guy. He goes through all his reads and everything. He knows more about my position than what I do. This is a guy that knows everything on the field and comes in and gets extra work and extra film all the time. And you can see it on the field and how the season kept going and just him progressing and getting better and better and then obviously in the championship game. He really just took off.”

#82 – Zach Vraa

ZachVraa

  • 2015 Year: Senior
  • Position: Wide Receiver
  • Hometown: Rosemount, Minn.
  • High School: Rosemount High School
  • 43 games played, 155 receptions, 2,447 receiving yards, 23 touchdowns
  • *Single-season receiving yards (1,191), receiving touchdowns (15)
  • *2013 All-Missouri Valley Football Conference First Team
  • *Four-time MVFC Honor Roll

What was the “ah-ha” moment for you while you were meeting with Atif, Chris and Tim that made you want to come back?

“I kind of had my mind made up before hand and I just wanted to talk to them to see what it would be like during the year and during the offseason. Just what I thought about coming back and what they thought about me coming back and just their thoughts on a bunch of different things during the season. Ultimately, we came to the same page and we all felt good about it and I told them I’d be back.”

What is it about the culture here that made it easier for you to decide to come back?

“It is nice that we have been so successful and we’re winning championships and everything. In terms of the culture, just because my senior class is leaving I feel like I have a good relationship with the young guys. There’s not a huge drop-off. I still have a bunch of buddies that are still here as receivers. All of us are really close.”

Zach Vraa1

Photo by Darren Gibbins

Carey Woods tells me you guys are related.

“It’s someone on my Dad’s side and his Mom’s cousin. It’s way out there.”

I see. Have any of the receivers reached out to you about coming back?

“A few of them. Since the game a lot of the upperclassmen, the incoming juniors and seniors, but I haven’t seen too many of the freshmen, but I’m sure we’ll touch base soon.”

You had something to prove this year with the loss of all the seniors. What’s your motivation this next year?

“…We play as a team. We’re not about having all-stars. … To keep proving to everybody that we can be successful year in and year out. Just because great athletes are leaving, I think the young guys are motivated to step up to what we have accomplished in the past. Ultimately, winning is the best feeling out there. We’re just motivated by that. To win.”

Finish this statement: “The Bison will be favorites to win another title because…”

“Our toughness and togetherness. And our pride and our conditioning.”

 

#59 – Joe Haeg

JoeHaeg

  • 2015 Year: Senior
  • Position: Offensive Tackle
  • Hometown: Lake Shore, Minn.
  • High School: Brainerd High School
  • 45 starts
  • 2014 Spots Network FCS All-America First Team
  • 2014 all-Missouri Valley Football Conference First Team
  • Three-time Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week

What was it like to shut-up the naysayers saying the o-line would fall off this year?

“I think it was great. We had a lot of naysayers out there but I think we proved them wrong this year. That was one of the driving factors this offseason was all these people were saying we couldn’t do it. And on the offensive line only returning one offensive line people said we wouldn’t be as good as we were last year, but I think wants we hit midseason going into the playoffs we played really well.”

What was your assessment of the play of the offensive line?

“I think we played really well. For how many guys we had rotating in and out that gave us a lot of great experience and depth for a lot of the guys to help us out this next year. I think it was great just to see these guys grow throughout the year and gaining so much knowledge and experience with the team.”

Joe Haeg1

Photo by Darren Gibbins

What is it about this offensive line tradition that seems like you guys can plug in any offensive lineman to do the job?

“I think it’s just a credit to the coaching staff that develop and recruit guys that are very coachable and they’re hard workers. And then in the offseason with Jim Kramer, he’s really been so huge. When all those guys left it was really important to us that he stayed and someone we needed to keep. Just keeping the normalcy and keep working on strength and conditioning with all of us. He really focused throughout the offseason.”

How are you guys remaining hungry for another championship?

“Every year, the thing that’s always driving us is knowing that we had a good year and we lost a lot of seniors that’s going to be big just knowing we have that fifth year to prove. It’s like the win streak.”

#78 – Landon Lechler

Landin Lechler

  • 2015 Year: Junior
  • Position: Offensive Line
  • Hometown: Beach, N.D.
  • High School: Beach High School
  • 25 games played, 16 starts

You’re a NoDak kid. What’s it like playing a huge role in winning your state another FCS Championship?

“It’s been great. Being from the state and growing up watching it evolve, you could say, coming from the DII ages and what the past guys did and lay the foundation for us to keep it rolling to bring a championship to the home state makes it that much sweeter.”

What will you remember most about Jesse Hinz, Adam Schueller and Zac Johnson?

“Their leadership. When I first got here, they were the guys that were just starting to figure it out when they were sophomores when I first came in and they have helped me along the way and were great leaders in helping me get the plays down and with the playbook.”

Landin Lechler1

Where did you sense the greatest representation of Bison Pride when we you were in Frisco last week?

“Not panicking when we were down. As a team, we were resilient and we knew that if we had another opportunity we would get it done.”

 

 

 

 

#11 – Carson Wentz

Carson Wentz

  • 2015 Year: Senior
  • Position: Quarterback
  • Hometown: Bismarck, N.D.
  • High School: Century High School
  • 64.9 completion percentage, 3,464 passing yards, 28 passing touchdowns, 734 rushing yards, seven rushing touchdowns
  • 2015 FCS Championship game MVP
  • Single-season pass attempts (358), completions (228), yards (3,111), total offensive yards (3,753)
  • Two-time NCAA Elite 89 Award winner

You had something to prove this year with the loss of all the seniors. What’s your motivation this next year?

“The biggest thing is always going to come down to our tradition. The last group of seniors and the leadership, it’s like a family even more than what I’m use to. I don’t think it was because I was finally playing, they really were my brother and they were awesome at doing that so I’m just really going to miss seeing those guys but you know I thought they did a tremendous job of getting everybody motivated and getting their minds right. There are young guys that come in and think they are high and mighty and everyone does a good job of buying into the fact everybody has a job to do. I think that will carry over to our newer leaders.”

Carson Wentz1

Photo by Darren Gibbins

What’s it like for a North Dakota boy to take the home state team to a title?

“I didn’t realize it that no one from the state has been the quarterback and led NDSU to a championship. I thought that was really cool and special for me. But not only for me to finally play, but to do it at my home school is just another extra reward. It’s something cool to see from this program in-state guys can be a huge part of a championship team at this level still. North Dakota still raises some good talent.”

Carey Woods told us you know his position better than he does, why do you feel the need to know that?

“To get the best relationship and best understanding of the offense, I want to understand everything. Even this year, I took it to another level – obviously I’ve know the passing game for awhile – but I took it to another level with the run game and what the o-lineman are doing and all of that. So I just think the more knowledge I can continue to develop. I’ve had the offense down now for a while and when Coach P came in and mixed it up a little bit, but nothing too off the charts. For me, I can never be complacent with what I know and always try to be a student of the game.”

Multiple last-minute drive wins, what gets into you around crunch time?

“There are a number of reasons. For one, I thoroughly enjoy it. I enjoy the pressure situation because I’m able to stay calm and I can call the play and we’re going at a fast pace and I think that’s something that’s pretty enjoyable for me. We rep it like crazy in practice. Every week this year and even a couple times a week this season we were repping the two-minute drill. That’s not just something that’s on the field and then in the locker room and getting together with the receivers and what we’re doing with the signals and knowing what we’re trying to get accomplished. We were more prepared than a lot of people would think, meaning we don’t use it a lot but when the time comes, everyone’s ready to go and excited that we have the opportunity to shine here and do it quickly.”

#46 – Andrew Bonnet

Andrew bonnet

  • 2015 Year: Senior
  • Position: Fullback
  • Hometown: Council Bluffs, Iowa
  • High School: Underwood High School
  • 46 games played, 45 receptions, 469 receiving yards, five receiving touchdowns
  • 2014 all-Missouri Valley Football Conference First Team
  • 2014 Sports Network All-American Third Team

What’s this Crew Chief mentality Tyler Roehl keeps telling me about?

“Tyler just tries to bring this toughness to our group. He tries to instill in us to be head-banging guys. It’s more of a toughness and being unforgiving, relentless you could say.”

Why are people always shoving you after the whistle?

“Some guys don’t like when you play through the whistle, you know (laughs). Sometimes you get a little push from that.”

Seemed like your role expanded this year, how do you prepare for getting fed the ball more?

“Really I was just doing the things I’ve always been doing. I think Polasek likes throwing a few wrinkles in the offense every week and I guess he saw me as a guy that he could do those things with. I’ve gotten mentions of playing a little running back next year, so we’ll see where that goes. Polasek likes to switch it up.”

Andrew Bonnet2

Photo by Darren Gibbins

What does it mean for you guys to have a guy like Tyler Roehl as a coach?

“Tyler’s huge for the program. He just knows the hard work that needs to be done every day. He’s always trying to keep us focused and keep us in the Bison mentality that those guys brought back when he was playing.”

What are you going to miss about this senior class?

“I’m going to miss a lot of things about these guys. Being around Kevin for four years now, Kevin was a great guy. I’ll miss him playing rock music before the games, a little head banging stuff. Sometimes. I’ll switch it up every once in a while and get something new in there.”

Will you ever cut your hair?

“I’d like to keep it forever. But one day I’m going to have to grow up.”

 

#88 – Lucas Albers

Lucas Albers

  • 2015 Year: Senior
  • Position: Tight End
  • Hometown: Iola, Wis.
  • High School: Iola-Scandinavia High School
  • 29 games played, 16 catches, 220 receiving yards, four receiving touchdowns
  • Touchdown catch in the 2015 FCS National Championship game

How do you think your role on this team will change next year as a senior?

“I think it’s just going to be a lot more reps than it has been. Kevin and I have played a lot of ball and then there were some young guys in the mix but I think a lot of it is going to fall on me and Bonnet next year and we’re going to be playing a lot of football. And I’m excited for it.”

What’s the Crew Chief mentality?

“It’s going out there and playing for each other. You play to the whistle. It’s a nasty mentality, you go in there and you’re the enforcer. You start a confrontation and go out there and punch them in the mouth. That’s almost Bison football in a way too but I think we really take pride in that in the Crew Chief room.”

What does this team need to do to return to Frisco?

Lucas Albers1

“Same thing we do every year. Get in the weight room; Kramer is going to put us to work. Winter conditioning is what it’s about, just keeping our noses to the grindstone. We’ll have a little time off here but I’m sure Kramer is itching to get us back in there. A lot of us guys are already itching to get back in there. We’ve had two days off and people are already getting bored and think we need to get back in there and lift.”

What was the moment when you realized “this is what Bison Pride is all about”?

“The first thing that popped into my head was the alumni. The last two years to see the guys make the trip. This year there was an insane amount of guys down there. The whole mob of guys from the 60s 70s 80s, so many of those guys just to sit and talk with them. It was different for me this year because I had a bigger role on the team and a lot of them recognized me and I recognized them. To see them out there supporting us and telling us all their memories that we’ve created over the past few years that was insane.”

#30 – Jedre Cyr

JedreCyr

  • 2015 Year: Senior
  • Position: Fullback
  • Hometown: Glyndon, Minn.
  • High School: Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton High School
  • 35 games played, four starts
  • 2013 Missouri Valley Football Conference Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award
  • 2011, 2012, 2013 MVFC Honor Roll

What’s the biggest takeaway from this senior class for you younger guys?

“The dedication. The dedication those guys put into this program and the time and effort that everybody has put in, they see what it takes to do what they need to do to be able to do the same thing. I think that’s the biggest thing. They have a picture to look at to know what they need to do to get to the same spot they need to be. They’ve seen the final project and they know how to get there.”

Your role expanded immensely this year. Who was responsible for your readiness?

“I’ll start with Coach Polasek back when I came in. I was pretty raw. I was playing offensive line in high school. Sitting in his meetings for two years and then learning from Andrew Grothmann big time. I learned a lot from him. Coach Riley last year did a lot for me, he was teaching me things I didn’t know and expanding my football knowledge. And then this year having Coach Roehl was tremendous. It’s like having a combination of Coach Riley and Coach Polasek. You got the crazy and the serious and when you put it together it’s been fun. It was good. Being with Andrew all the time too. Just extremely helpful.”

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You’re in a unique situation being from the area. What’s it mean for you to bring home another title for Fargo, NoDak and Western Minnesota?

“It’s great. I mean I go back home and a bunch of people is congratulating me. I got my elementary teacher coming up and hugging me. It’s cool. It’s really nice to bring something back to them. All most all the people have followed the Bison but it’s a cool way to bring back some publicity and some notoriety and notice to what is up in Fargo.”

“My dad painted his truck Bison colors. You don’t get much more dedicated than that. Not many people are going to buy a $150,000 rig and paint it Bison colors.”

How does this team constantly handle high expectations?

“I would say the biggest thing is that we block that out. Our goal every week is to go 1-0. And if we have more points on the board than we’re going to win. And the fact that people might say why is the game so close we want blowouts and then people will say why are all these blowouts we want a closer game so everybody stays. You’ll never satisfy everyone but the fact that we have these supporters supporting is no matter what – it’s awesome.”

 

 

Built To Last – Offense
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