Skip to main content


Carson Wentz's college coach says 'the stage won't be too big for this young man'

If there's one play that defines Carson Wentz, look no further than the final drive of the 2014 FCS national championship game, says North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman.

"I would say this, you can probably get it on YouTube," Klieman said Wednesday on Cleveland Browns Daily.

Trailing Indiana State late in the fourth quarter, Wentz guided the Bison down the field with a handful of gutsy throws before calling a quarterback run up the middle, plowing into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

"All those things really emulate Carson Wentz," Klieman said. "The stage wasn't too big. He was able to throw the ball, run the ball, control his emotions … it doesn't matter if it's the first quarter or fourth quarter, he's got the same demeanor."

Wentz, who helped North Dakota State win another title last season, is considered one of the best quarterbacks in this year's NFL Draft class. And with a big frame and powerful arm, he's projected to be a first-round pick later this month.

Klieman, who coached Wentz in his two seasons as a starter, offered first-hand experience for why that is.

"You're going to get a competitive guy who's going to be a winner," he said. "He's going to make your city, your town better because you have him in the organization."

The Browns hold the second and 32nd overall draft picks and have made it clear they intend on using those selections on the best players available, regardless of position.

That includes Wentz, whom Cleveland has given a careful look over the past few months as it searches for a franchise quarterback. The Browns are also evaluating other signal-callers in the draft beyond Wentz, including California's Jared Goff and Memphis' Paxton Lynch.

Currently on Cleveland's roster at quarterback are Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown, Connor Shaw and Austin Davis, all of whom find themselves competing for a starting job.

And if Wentz were to join the Browns, Klieman said he could benefit from the ability to "sit and learn for a while."

"I think any quarterback would benefit by sitting and watching — no matter if he goes pick one or pick 12 — I think it'd be a benefit for him to learn," he said, adding, "I think you want to make sure a guy's going to go into a situation and build some confidence."

While Wentz won two national titles with NDSU as its starting quarterback, he'll likely join a team looking to bounce back from a losing season — be it Cleveland or elsewhere — if he's indeed picked in the top 10 as projected by some analysts.

"Obviously that would be a tough thing, but he knows that each day is a new day and each game is a new game," Klieman said when asked how Wentz might handle that prospect. "He hasn't experienced losing much but that'll also rub off on other guys for whatever team he goes to."

Another potential concern about Wentz is whether or not playing at the FCS level prepared him for the level of competition in the NFL.

Browns coach Hue Jackson, who attended Wentz's Pro Day last month in Fargo, played down the notion.

"There's a lot of National Football League players that went to small schools that are playing well in the NFL," Jackson said, "It's about creating an environment for a guy to be great and I think we can do that. "​

Klieman offered a similar sentiment.

"The stage won't be too big for this young man. He's a really confident guy but not cocky or arrogant," he said. "He knows where he's at in the draft, but he's grounded."

Klieman added: "He's just a Midwest guy trying to improve and get better."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content