Everywhere he walked, eyes followed, locked on as former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, who participated in North Dakota State’s Pro Day on Thursday.
Even if it was to get a drink out of his Gatorade water bottle, a camera was in his face.
With it being the biggest Pro Day in NDSU history, I understand why.
A kid from Bismarck, North Dakota, has a chance to be the first quarterback taken in the 2016 NFL Draft, unimaginable a few years ago. But Wentz lived up to the hype inside the Fargodome.
He participated in just one drill, which was fine because Wentz completed 62-of-65 passes and continues to give the doubters nothing to work with.
“I wanted to go 65-for-65,” Wentz said after in an NDSU team meeting room at the Fargodome. “I really wanted to go and show the athleticism that I posses, the ability to throw on the run, to throw on awkward platforms and still deliver accurate footballs.
“And overall I thought that showed through.”
Wentz said the trickiest part was when the Cleveland Browns assistant coach Pep Hamilton decided to squirt water on the footballs just before he took the snap and dropped back to pass.
His first pass with the wet ball drill dove straight into the Gate City Bank Field artificial grass.
“I didn’t really prepare for it,” Wentz said about the drill. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen or not.”
The 6-foot, 5-inch quarterback, who went 20-3 as a starter, seemed cool and collected throughout the event. Most of his throws were on target, with the expectation of a few that went through his receivers’ hands.
And completing 95 percent of his passes isn’t bad either.
NDSU head coach Chris Klieman said he thought Wentz did a “phenomenal job.”
“I had some people tell me that he did a great job,” Klieman said. ” … and you could tell similarly when I saw him out on the field at Frisco, (Texas), boy he was juiced up. He was ready to perform and play today.
“He’s just so competitive, and I knew he’d shine of the big stage today.”
Wentz ran the 40-yard dash in 4.77 seconds and jumped 30.5 inches in the vertical jump at the NFL Draft Combine, and is the No. 1-ranked quarterback by NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock.
And Klieman said as team’s continue to look for something wrong with Wentz they most likely won’t find a flaw in his game.
“He is what he is,” Klieman said of Wentz. “He’s a genuine guy that’s a servant leader that tries to make everybody around him better.”
The NFL Draft is April 28, and after a break for Wentz, he will be back on the grind, completing private workouts. He said he wasn’t sure when his schedule with the Dallas Cowboys will be.
“I’m not sure what my schedule is exactly,” Wentz said. “With respect to all the teams, I don’t want to discuss who I’m working out with (or) who I’m visiting.”
Offensive Lineman Shines
Former NDSU standout offensive lineman Joe Haeg also participated in the pro day, and improved his vertical jumped by about two inches.
“One of my biggest assets is my athleticism and my explosion,” Haeg said. “I think that’s something I was able to show today by getting my vertical up to 30 inches.”
Haeg, a 6-foot, 6-inch 293-pounder, played offensive tackle for the Bison. He said he is willing to play “either tackle or guard on either side.”
“Every team is different. … I’m comfortable with and pretty capable of doing,” he said.
Smith Excels In His First Pro Day
Former NDSU cornerback and All-Missouri Valley Football Conference first team selection CJ Smith unofficially had a 40-yard dash time of 4.5 seconds.
“I thought CJ did a really nice job and I thought he ran well,” Klieman, who had been a defensive backs coach at four schools prior to coming NDSU, said.
Smith is listed at 5-foot-11 and weighs about 183 pounds. He has gone unnoticed, just like former Bison cornerback Marcus Williams did a few years ago as an undrafted free agent.
Last season Smith led the Missouri Valley Football Conference in passes defend per game, and was ranked eighth in the Football Championship Subdivision with 1.54 passes defended.
“We just need to get his name out there more,” Klieman said about Smith. “I think he’s a young man. Whether he’s a draftable guy late or real priority free agent, (he) will be a guy that will have a hard time not making a club.”