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.
Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook will not participate in the Senior Bowl, the top college football all-star event on the calendar for NFL Draft hopefuls. Cook has reportedly declined to accept his invitation to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen will fill his spot on the Senior Bowl roster.
Cook is widely expected to be a first-round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and because he is coming back from a shoulder injury it was not a shock to see Cook choose not to participate in the Senior Bowl. He will have a chance to make up for his Senior Bowl absence in a pro day event later as well as the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis later this winter.
Allen will now have a chance to take advantage of the Senior Bowl opportunity. The Senior Bowl is the highest-regarded all-star event that will be attended to by members of every NFL Franchise, including many head coaches in addition to scouts. What happens in Senior Bowl practices can help some prospects show off some positives that may be overlooked otherwise.
Other quarterbacks scheduled to appear at the Senior Bowl are Jacoby Brissett of NC State, Jake Coker of Alabama, Jeff Driskel of Louisiana Tech, Kevin Hogan of Stanford, Cody Kessler of USC, Dak Prescott of Mississippi State and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State. Remember that only seniors are eligible to attend the Senior Bowl, so many of the quarterbacks in the NFL Draft pool like Cal’s Jared Goff, Ohio State’s Cardale Jones and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg are not allowed to be extended an invitation.
The drive for five — and into the pages of history — is now complete.
North Dakota State waxed top-seeded Jacksonville State 37-10 Saturday afternoon in Frisco, Texas, clinching the Bison’s fifth straight FCS national championship. With the win, North Dakota State became the first college football team in history — regardless of classification — to claim five consecutive national crowns.
As always, the Bison won the title on the back of their unforgiving defense. North Dakota State held Jacksonville State — which came into the game ranked third in FCS in rushing, sixth in scoring and riding a 13-game winning streak since losing an overtime heartbreaker at Auburn back in September — to just 147 rushing yards and 204 total yards. Quarterback Eli Jenkins led the club with 15 carries for 88 yards and a six-yard touchdown scamper, but hit only 7-of-20 passes for 57 yards with two interceptions. The Gamecocks achieved only nine first downs on the day while converting only three of their 12 third-down tries.
Quarterback Carson Wentz was the catalyst for the Bison offense, connecting on 16-of-29 passes for 197 yards with a touchdown (and two interceptions) while rushing nine times for a game-high 79 yards and two more scores. King Frazier added 22 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown.
This game played out similarly to North Dakota State’s four previous championship triumphs: close for a while, then a total blowout. The Bison led just 3-0 after one quarter, then scored three touchdowns over a six-minute span in the second quarter to take a 24-0 edge to the break. Jacksonville State cut some distance between the clubs with Jenkins’ touchdown run and a Connor Rouleau field goal in the third quarter, but two Cam Pederson field goals and a one-yard Wentz plunge provided the final score.
The win allows North Dakota State to close a five-year run in which it went 71-5, amazingly experiencing as many national titles as losses.
The results of those title wins may be the most impressive stat of all:
- 17-6 over Sam Houston State in 2011
- 39-13 over Sam Houston State in 2012
- 35-7 over Towson in 2013
- 29-27 over Illinois State in 2014
- 37-10 over Jacksonville State in 2015
Scratch that. The most impressive nugget in the Bison’s historic run? This:
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.