Why Didn’t Carson Wentz Play at a D1 FBS College?

Carson Wentz has had a pretty good NFL career. If you followed his college career, you may not have expected him to see much success as a pro because he didn’t play at a Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college. How did a starting NFL quarterback end up playing at North Dakota State? Here’s the story of how Wentz slipped through the cracks.

Light recruitment in high school

Major college programs didn’t recruit Wentz when he was in high school. Where he lived at the time likely played a significant factor. Many of the big-time college football programs — like Alabama, Clemson, and Oklahoma — are in the southeastern part of the U.S. They have many high school prospects in their own region. Wentz, however, attended high school in Bismarck, North Dakota — virtually the polar opposite of the South.

The capital city of North Dakota is not far from the Canadian border and well outside the areas where major college programs tend to recruit. Wentz also suffered a setback as he didn’t play his junior year while recovering from thumb and shoulder injuries. Most major college programs make quarterback offers following the junior season. So, it was a tough year for Wentz to sit out.

Carson Wentz’s college career

Wentz had minimal playing time in his first two seasons at North Dakota State. His junior year, however, he became the Bisons’ starting quarterback. Playing in 16 games, Wentz was 228-for-358, passing for 3,111 yards and 25 touchdowns and throwing 10 interceptions.

During his senior season, Wentz broke his right wrist (his throwing hand) and required surgery, ending his season roughly halfway through. After missing eight weeks, Wentz returned to lead the team in the FCS National Championship game. In his seven starts as a senior, Wentz was 130-for-208, throwing for 1,651 yards, 17 touchdowns, and four interceptions.

The draft process

Playing for North Dakota State didn’t hurt Wentz much during the draft process, despite just 18 teams attending his pro day in Fargo, North Dakota, with others grounded by a snowstorm. He even impressed legendary NFL scout Gil Brandt, who attended Wentz’s pro day and said, “He was off the charts” and predicted, “There will be a lot of people finding Fargo, N.D., to work him out.”

Wentz showed enough promise that the Eagles eventually selected him with the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. The team immediately made him the starter as a rookie.

Wentz’s NFL career to date

In his first season, Wentz threw for 3,782 yards and 16 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions. He showed significant improvement the following season. In 13 games — three fewer than the previous year — he threw for 3,296 yards, 33 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He was limited to 11 games in 2018. He had 3,074 yards passing, with 21 touchdowns and another seven picks.

Due to injuries ending his last two seasons prematurely, Wentz has not yet played in a postseason game. This streak may continue as the team is off to a disappointing 1-2 start. In his first three games of 2019, Wentz has thrown for 803 yards, six touchdowns, and two interceptions as he looks to avoid an injury-shortened season for the first time since 2016.