Senior Bowl Profile: Carson Wentz

Posted Feb 4, 2016

The spotlight is on North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz. Learn more about top 2016 prospect.

Until his last game as a North Dakota State Bison, quarterback Carson Wentz went somewhat under the radar. After leading his team to its fifth straight FCS national title in January, he’s become a top NFL prospect with potential first-round draft stock.

“For me, I’m just trying to take it one day at a time and get better,” Wentz said last week at the Senior Bowl. “I’m just excited to keep playing this game and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Wentz grew up a multi-sport athlete, playing hockey, basketball, baseball, and football, which he said played a big part in his athletic development and current ability. But he didn’t’ get to this point without his fair share of adverse situations, which began as a junior in high school.

“I had some lingering arm issues from baseball,” Wentz said. “Throwing a ton in football and baseball growing up kind of wore on me.”

Wentz then broke his thumb in the middle of his junior season, which not only sidelined him from playing, but he said the recruiting train also passed him by during that period.  

“Then my senior year I kind of came out of nowhere,” Wentz said. “I grew another couple inches and put on 30 pounds and all of a sudden I was a 6’5”, 200 pound kid. I was recruited by a bunch of FCS schools and I missed the FBS schools, but the path I took was very rewarding and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Wentz earned the starting job at NDSU before his junior season in 2014 and it proved to be his most productive. He set numerous school records, including passes completed, passing yards, and total offense per game. He finished the year with 3,111 yards through the air, 25 touchdowns, and an FCS title. He was set to have a similar senior season and started the first six games of 2015 until breaking his wrist, which forced him to sit out the next eight.

“I’m not going to lie, it was a very emotional time finding out I broke my wrist and potentially my career as a Bison was over,” Wentz said. “I just got back to work and did what I could in the weight room and conditioning with our strength coach.”

Wentz also proved the type of teammate he is by continuing to study in the film room to help his backup in any way possible.

“I just did anything I could to get better both for this season, in case I got the opportunity to play again, then also for this time period going forward. It was a tough and challenging road, but I used it as an opportunity to get better and made the most of it.”

He was cleared for practice in December and was rewarded with the starting job for this year’s FCS title game against Jacksonville State, where he threw for a touchdown and ran for two more. His performance exhibited his ability as a quarterback, no doubt, but also the leadership to lead the team even after an extended absence.

“For me I think that kind of comes naturally and it’s how I am. I love the game and I’m a competitor. I love coming out here and that’s the energy I bring on a day-to-day basis.”

After college, Wentz’ career continues with the theme of challenging roads as the journey from the FCS to the NFL is the tougher than most. He enters the draft process hearing constant comparisons to former FCS players, like Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who made the jump to the NFL.

All eyes were on Wentz last week in Mobile, Ala. at the Senior Bowl. It was an important time for the quarterback to perform on the field, but also to show how he can handle the national spotlight heading into the draft.

“I love it. I love playing football and everything going on around me is cool, but I’m just staying focused everyday and trying to get better,” Wentz said. “Without a doubt I want to prove that I can play at this level and at this speed. The big knock on the FCS is, “can he adjust?” and I think I’m more than capable of doing that and I’m ready to prove it.”