Carson Wentz

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Carson Wentz looks to follow in Joe Flacco’s FCS footsteps

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One of the hottest names buzzing in the NFL Draft conversations is North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. Though he typically tends to fly under the radar on the FCS level, North Dakota State’s string of four consecutive national championships has helped players like Wentz catch the eyes of the scouts. The scouts have most certainly taken notice of Wentz, who is widely considered to be one of, if not the, top quarterback prospect in the NFL Draft this spring. Wentz knows there is hope to make it at the next level, because other FCS quarterbacks have proven they can be franchise quarterbacks.

“I think the success of guys like Joe Flacco or Tony Romo or, . . . the list goes on whether it’s quarterbacks or other position players,” he said, according to Pro Football Talk. “There’s a lot of talented individuals at the FCS level that can play. Especially a guy like Flacco coming in really right away as a rookie and winning some ballgames I think shows that that adjustment can be made by special players for sure.”

Romo, of the Dallas Cowboys, played his college football at Eastern Illinois where he earned three All-Ohio Valley Conference honors and was three-time OVC Player of the Year and a 2002 Walter Payton Award winner. He went undrafted in the 2003 NFL Draft, but things seem to have worked out well for him with the Cowboys. Flacco took a slightly different path to the Baltimore Ravens. Flacco started out at the FBS level at Pittsburgh but transferred to FCS Delaware after serving as a backup to Tyler Palko with the Panthers. Flacco set 20 records for the Blue Hens and guided Delaware to the national championship game in 2007, where Delaware fell to the same Appalachian State team that famously upset Michigan in Ann Arbor. Wentz has drawn plenty of comparisons to Flacco given his stature and arm strength.

Wentz isn’t the only former FCS star quarterback looking to make it at the next level, of course. Oregon’s Vernon Adams spent one season with the Ducks after a highly successful run at Eastern Washington. Unlike Wentz though, Adams appears to be fighting just to be drafted by an NFL team due to his lack of size (of course, Russell Wilson isn’t exactly a big guy, and he’s fared well).

North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz ready to prove doubters wrong

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Just days after helping FCS power North Dakota State win its fifth straight national championship, with a victory over Jacksonville State, Bison quarterback Carson Wentz had the opportunity to discuss his rising NFL Draft stock with Dan Patrick on The Dan Patrick Show (simulcast on NBC Sports Network). Wentz was asked about his return from injury, his height and more by the veteran sports radio host.

“What the writers have to say, it is what it is. You try not to focus on that, everyone has a different angle, a different approach,” Wentz said. “What really matters is what the teams think of you, what the scouts and the ownership thinks of you. I’m not concerned with what writers have to say to be honest with you.”

Wentz said the best thing that’s been said about him is that he is a winner, which is always a nice character trait to have when looking to make a splash in the NFL. On the flip side, Wentz said he is no fan of the FCS bashing done by some. Asked if he feels he belongs in the conversation along with players like Jared Goff of Cal and Paxton Lynch of Memphis, Wentz said “I definitely believe in that group, no doubt about it.”

Wentz will get a chance to play with some of the top seniors in college football later this month at the Senior Bowl.

Christian Hackenberg not thinking about NFL just yet

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This weekend Penn State will play its final home game of the season against Jim Harbaugh, Jabrill Peppers and the surging Michigan Wolverines. As is typically the case around college football, the last home game of the year will see a proper sendoff to Penn State’s seniors, the first class signed by former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien. Though not a senior, many suspect this could also be the final home game for quarterback Christian Hackenberg. He says that thought has not crossed his mind.

Hackenberg shined as a freshman under O’Brien but has struggled at times in the past two seasons under James Franklin. Some still see potential in Hackenberg as an NFL prospect, but his stock and likelihood of being a potential draft pick has dropped considerably since the start of the season as a lack of progress as a passer has been apparent. Josh Norris of RotoWorld currently ranks Hackenberg as the sixth top quarterback prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft, assuming Hackenberg passes on his final season in State College. Hackenberg is now behind players like Paxton Lynch of Memphis, Jacoby Brissett of North Carolina State and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State. Other quarterbacks previously in the discussion for top quarterback options along with Hackenberg, Cal’s Jared Goff and Michigan State’s Connor Cook, are also both ahead of Penn State’s best quarterback prospect since Kerry Collins.

If Hackenberg does not declare early for the NFL Draft, there are those who believe his next best option might be to transfer to another school to play in a system more likely to use his skill set in a more preferable way. For now at least, Hackenberg’s on the record suggesting he has every intention on returning to Penn State for his fourth and final year of eligibility in 2016.

FCS-to-Ducks transfer one of 30 QBs on Unitas Award watch list

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Even as one high-profile FCS transfer has yet to be officially added to his new Power Five program’s roster, he’s still highly thought of by at least one major award.

Tuesday, the fine folks at the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award released its preseason watch list, with the annual award given to the best college senior or fourth-year junior quarterback recognizing 30 players who meet the qualifications.  And, again, those qualifications are that they are, one, a quarterback and, two, are a college senior or fourth-year junior.

Included in that group of 30 is Vernon Adams, one of the most decorated players in the Football Championship Series who announced in February of this year that he would be transferring from Eastern Washington to Oregon for his final season of collegiate eligibility.  In early July it was reported that Adams had been admitted to UO and ruled eligible to enroll in classes at the university.  However, Adams will likely miss at least the first three days of the Ducks’ summer camp that begins Aug. 10 as he cleans up one final class that will allow him formal admission and his inclusion on his new squad’s roster.

There’s also one current FCS quarterback in the group: North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.

In addition to Adams and Wentz, 2014 Unitas finalists Cody Kessler of USC and Dak Prescott of Mississippi State are included in the initial watch list.   Last year’s winner was the man Adams will attempt to replace, Marcus Mariota.

Below is the complete list of preseason Unitas Award watch listers.  And, again, those eligible are college senior or fourth-year junior quarterbacks.

Vernon Adams, Oregon
Brandon Allen, Arkansas
Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska
Mike Bercovici, Arizona State
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Blake Frohnapfel, UMass
Everett Golson, Florida State
Taysom Hill, BYU
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Driphus Jackson, Rice
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
Cody Kessler, USC
Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati
Fredi Knighten, Arkansas State
Joe Licata, Buffalo
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Maty Mauk, Missouri
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Zach Terrell, Western Michigan
Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
Chad Voytik, Pittsburgh
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah