SDSU And USD Faced A Future Starting Quarterback In The NFL
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits and the University of South Dakota Coyotes have played against some real talent throughout the years but the past two season they got a first-hand look at possible No. 1 draft pick.
NDSU Bison quarterback Carson Wentz has been projected to go either No. 1 to the Los Angeles Rams or No. 2 to the Philadelphia Eagles. Most analyst project him to be the second quarterback taken behind California quarterback Jared Goff.
In the past two seasons, the Jackrabbits and Coyotes have faced Wentz in Fargo once and once at home.
“He’s obviously a great player but he’s able to make a lot of line checks,” SDSU defensive back Nick Mears said. “He’s played a lot of football, if you show to early he’s able to figure it out what coverage you’re in and he’s got a lot of arm talent as well.”
The last two years against SDSU, Wentz completed 31 of 47 passes for 298 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and also rushed 23 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns in two meetings. While in the two games against the Coyotes, Wentz completed 30 of 54 passes for 426 yards and five touchdowns.
As a junior starter in 2014, Wentz threw for 3,111 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also added 760 rushing yards and six touchdowns while leading the Bison to their fourth consecutive FCS championship.
During his senior year Wentz started only six games before being sidelined for 12 weeks by a broken wrist in late October.
“Carson is the epitome of our program but we’re bigger than just one person,” said offensive coordinator Tim Polasek. “The kids' reaction was more that the next guy will step up because that’s what we do at North Dakota State.
Wentz worked his way back and was cleared to play one week before the FCS championship game Jan. 9 against no. 1 seeded Jacksonville State.
In the championship Wentz threw for 197 yards and a touchdown. He also led the Bison with 79 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Wentz finished the 2015 season with a 65 percent completion rate, 1,651 passing yards, 17 passing touchdowns and six rushing touchdowns.
One of the biggest reasons Wentz is a top prospect in this years draft is because of his size. At 6-feet-5 inches he has the ability to move his 237-pound body like a tight end.
In February, Wentz performed at the NFL combine in Indianapolis and performed in the top three in almost every drill. He ran a 4.77-second 40 yard-dash, jumped a 9’10” in broad jump and ran a 6.86 second three cone shuttle time.
“Just the natural athlete that he is makes him comfortable throwing the ball on the run, extending plays, throwing downfield, and then if he has to beat you with his feet,” Polasek said.
Wentz is a gifted athlete but his desire for learning is something that makes him special and that’ something Polsek says started when Wentz was a redshirt freshman in 2011.
“He was interested in the origin of what we were doing, why we were doing it and how we were doing it,” Polsek said. “ That was interesting to me because you don’t see that out of everybody.”
The first round of the NFL Draft will begin Thursday, April 28 at 7 p.m. on ESPN and NFL Network.