USA TODAY Sports Weekly

WENTZ EA­GER TO PROVE HE BE­LONGS

- Q: Are you en­joy­ing the big stage this week, ap­pre­ci­at­ing how far you’ve come? Q: Is there any­thing unique about your game com­pared to other quar­ter­backs?

Of all the play­ers who par­tic­i­pated in last week’s Se­nior Bowl, a kid from North Dakota State drew the most at­ten­tion. Car­son Wentz, a 6-6 strong-armed quar­ter­back, ex­celled at the Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship Sub­di­vi­sion level, but how would he fare against the best of the best?

Nolan Vasan of NFL Draft Geek caught up with Wentz at the Se­nior Bowl’s me­dia night Jan. 26 to ask him about his ex­pec­ta­tions for the week and what im­pres­sion he hoped to leave on NFL scouts and coaches.

Q: How does it feel com­ing from a small school like North Dakota State go­ing against all th­ese guys from big schools? Do you feel com­ing from a small school gives you an edge?

A: I think a lot of the smallschoo­l guys come in here with a lit­tle bit of a chip on their shoul­der, some­thing to prove, fi­nally get out here and face the big guys and show we can play.

Q: How would you de­scribe your game to those who may never have seen you play be­fore?

A: I’m not afraid to take chances. You have to play con­fi­dent and you have to play fast. Ev­ery now and then you’re go­ing to have to take chances, but you’ve got to be smart with that. But at the end of the day, I think if you play fast good things are go­ing to hap­pen.

A: I feel very for­tu­nate, very blessed. It’s an awe­some op­por­tu­nity to come here and com­pete at a high level, show the scouts, fans and me­dia that you can play. The un­der­class­men don’t get this op­por­tu­nity but we get a chance to give ev­ery­body a first glimpse of what we can do.

Q: You’ve played in a lot of big games, but did you feel ner­vous out there play­ing in front of all th­ese NFL scouts and with so many peo­ple ex­am­in­ing you?

A: Right away, be­fore the day started, I was a lit­tle ner­vous, but once we got on the field at the end of the day it’s just foot­ball. You’ve got all th­ese dif­fer­ent guys com­ing to­gether from dif­fer­ent schools, but foot­ball is foot­ball and we’re all just ex­cited to get out there and com­pete.

Q: Are there cer­tain quar­ter­backs in the NFL you try to model your game af­ter?

A: I think the three guys I en­joy watch­ing would be Tom Brady, the way he dis­sects teams and gets the ball out of his hands. I think Aaron Rodgers is al­ways fun to watch, the way he can ex­tend and make plays. And also Cam New­ton, the en­ergy he brings and the way he has fun out there is def­i­nitely some­thing I want to repli­cate a lit­tle bit. And with Cam, it’s like when I was grow­ing up the guy I en­joyed watch­ing the most was Brett Favre, how much he en­joyed play­ing the game and did his own thing out there. I def­i­nitely feel that’s im­por­tant and some­thing I want to have as part of my game.

Q: Is there any­thing you feel you need to work on tran­si­tion­ing from a small school to the NFL?

A: The big­gest thing is foot­work and be­ing con­sis­tent with that. I feel like I made a big im­prove­ment in that area from my ju­nior to se­nior sea­son. It’s some­thing that ev­ery quar­ter­back is work­ing on. It’s some­thing we work hard on dur­ing the off­sea­son try­ing to pol­ish that up.

Q: Do you look up to guys like Joe Flacco and Jimmy Garop­polo who came from small schools, came through the Se­nior Bowl and made it in the NFL?

A: It def­i­nitely helps; it shows that it can be done. I think it sets a great ex­am­ple that it doesn’t mat­ter where you come from, if you can play then you can play, and peo­ple are go­ing to find you and give you an op­por­tu­nity.

A: I think I’m a pretty ver­sa­tile player. I don’t want to say I’m a dual-threat guy; I’m def­i­nitely a pocket passer first, but I def­i­nitely think I have the abil­ity to im­pro­vise and make plays when the time calls for it. With my feet, I feel like I can be a play­maker, and I def­i­nitely feel like I bring some

unique abil­i­ties to the po­si­tion.

Q: At the end of the week what do you want peo­ple to know about you?

A: The big ques­tion I think peo­ple have about me is whether I can play at this speed and against this level of tal­ent. I think I’m go­ing to prove that and at the end of the week it’s no longer go­ing to be a ques­tion. I just want to look smooth with my me­chan­ics. I want peo­ple to see that the ball jumps out of my hand and I have a strong arm. I’m also look­ing for­ward to mak­ing smart de­ci­sions. I think a lot of guys come here and want to show off their phys­i­cal tools, but at the end of the day you need to make smart de­ci­sions with the foot­ball and ex­e­cute.

 ?? BUTCH DILL, USA TO­DAY SPORTS ?? Car­son Wentz was 20-3 in two sea­sons as North Dakota State’s quar­ter­back and won two Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship Sub­di­vi­sion ti­tles.
BUTCH DILL, USA TO­DAY SPORTS Car­son Wentz was 20-3 in two sea­sons as North Dakota State’s quar­ter­back and won two Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship Sub­di­vi­sion ti­tles.

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