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Jeff Kolpack, Published August 08 2013

Wentz showing flashes of promise as NDSU's backup quarterback

Fargo

The undisputed passing leader in the history of North Dakota State football is Steve Walker. He threw for 7,033 yards from 2004-07.

Accuracy was the name of his game – he was 47 of 60 as a freshman when he emerged as the starter later in the season. That was just a start in a stellar career.

He was also 6-foot and 205 pounds.

NDSU will open this season at Kansas State on Aug. 30 with Brock Jensen as the starting quarterback.

He’s 6-3½ and 225 pounds.

His top backup is more impressive in stature. Sophomore Carson Wentz is

6-5½ and 222 pounds with some speed to go with it.

Wentz is said to be the total package. In practice, he has shown the size, quickness, intelligence and throwing accuracy to be a starter in almost any FCS program – except NDSU this season.

If he were in Bison camp in any other season, he probably would be taking the snaps at K-State. Behind Jensen and Wentz are 6-3, 210-pound redshirt freshman Derek McGinnis and 6-3, 187-pound true freshman Cole Davis.

“Brock is 6-3½ and Carson is 6-5½, they look a lot different than Steve Walker, put it that way,” head coach Craig Bohl said with a grin. “And, Steve, I’m sorry. He’ll appreciate that. He’ll get a chuckle, and you can print that in the paper.”

Kidding aside, what Wentz and the other two backups haven’t proven yet, however, is if they can throw with the poise and accuracy that Walker did on Saturdays. Now in his third year in the program, Wentz says he’s ready to give it a shot.

“I think I definitely would feel comfortable going out there and playing on Saturday,” he said. “I feel confident in my abilities with what I can do and I feel confident in the mental part of the game.”

Bohl said he shares the same confidence, but said it has yet to be determined if Wentz will play more than he did last season.

“But I can tell you, I feel very comfortable with Carson Wentz going in at any time of the ball game,” Bohl said. “His competency and his execution and understanding of the offense have improved. But Brock has improved, too.”

Jensen is second on the NDSU all-time passing list with 5,805 yards and should pass Walker this season as the leader. He’s also had more games thanks to playoff runs in each of his first three years.

Wentz, meanwhile, was 12 of 16 last year for 144 yards.

But he did seemingly get more involved in the offense as the season progressed. He scrambled for a first down in the semifinal playoff win over Georgia Southern last season on a play that appeared to have a misdirection design to it.

Asked if there’s a spot on the field for him this year similar to that GSU play, Wentz said that remains to be determined.

“I don’t know, we’ll find out what happens,” he said. “I’m champing at the bit to get out there and play but whatever is best for the team is best for the team. I’m just trying to get my head in there and learn as much as I can. The more reps I can get the better.”


Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia