The Rapid Growth Of Carson Wentz

Carson Wentz and Roger Goodell. (USA Today Sports)

Carson Wentz and Roger Goodell. (USA Today Sports)

In need of a big favor, Carson Wentz turned to the man upstairs.

Technically he wasn’t asking for much —  a few inches, really — but it would make a world of difference. Wentz had plenty of physical gifts to work with, but fell a bit short in the size department as a kid. Unlike his older brother Zach, who was about 6-2 entering high school, Carson checked in at 5-foot-8 as a freshman.

“I remember when [Zach] was a senior and almost 6-3, I was just praying, I’m like, ‘I just want to be six-feet tall. I feel like I’m pretty good. I just need…give me a couple more.’ And I just kept shooting up. I’m very thankful for that.”

Wentz grew some nine inches from his freshman to senior year, giving him all the real estate he needed and then some. A blessing, obviously, but all that growth in such a short period of time (Wentz now stands at a touch over 6-5) proved a lot for the body to handle while the transformation was ongoing.

“He sprouted up in a hurry. Part of the problem was he grew so fast, he couldn’t stay healthy,” Zach recalls. “His body was growing so fast and he couldn’t play quarterback, he had arm problems.”

“I had tendonitis-type things [in the shoulder],” said Carson. “[The doctors] told me that the muscles that support throwing in my back and everything, they weren’t developed yet. I was growing so much and throwing a lot [between football and baseball] and that’s really what wore it out, and that was the only injury really.”

That injury, plus a broken thumb sustained while making a tackle on defense that season,  kept him from playing QB his junior year of high school. All the pieces of the puzzle — the size, the health, the ability — didn’t fully come together until he was a senior, hence why he wasn’t recruited very hard by some of the major college programs. Central Michigan was apparently in pursuit, but North Dakota State offered a scholarship a week before his scheduled visit, and he pounced on it.

Speaking to a group of reporters in the media lounge Friday night, Wentz was asked if he ever watched some of the FBS competition on television while in college and said to himself: Yeah, I can do that.

“Yeah, absolutely,” he replied. “I mean I knew I could. Obviously I didn’t regret where I ended up. I walked out of there with five national championships, no regrets with that. But yeah, I would see it on Saturdays — didn’t watch a lot of it; we would play our games and then it was family time and all that — but when I’d see it I was like, ‘There is no reason I couldn’t be doing that.'”

It took a while, but he now gets the chance to go against the best of the best  at the highest of levels. It will be a major bump up in competition and environment, though he won’t be the first to make such a jump: QBs such as Steve McNair, Phil Simms and Joe Flacco all hail from non-FBS schools and still found success. And Wentz seems more than eager to finally get after it now that everything has clicked into place.

“Whether it’s FCS or even smaller FBS, mid-major type school, all those guys really show, if you can play, you can play,” he said. “No matter where you come from.”