CHICAGO -- Growing up in North Dakota, a place without a professional football team to call its own, a young Carson Wentz dreamed of NFL stardom.
"My mom (Cathy) actually showed me a couple weeks ago that there was something I wrote in second or third grade that I wanted to be an NFL football player someday," Wentz said on Thursday night in Chicago.
"Now it's real."
Wentz's dream became reality inside Roosevelt University's Auditorium Theater, as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wentz as the Eagles' selection with the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Wentz was on hand with his family as the first step of his NFL journey began.
"It's really exciting," said Wentz. "It's been a surreal night and it's pretty cool to be able to share it with my family."
While Wentz's immediate family was on-hand in Chicago, his adoptive family of North Dakota State Bison fans watched at a rally back home (though some did make the trip to the Windy City). After leading the Bison to back-to-back National Championships as the starting quarterback, Wentz endeared himself to the Fargo, North Dakota community. Now, he has a new fan base, a new family waiting to welcome him back in Philadelphia.
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"I'm just thankful for the support," said the newest Eagle. "The people back home in North Dakota have supported me all through my college career and now through this journey, it's been unbelievable. I can't thank them enough. And to these new fans back in Philly, it's exciting. I'm going to hopefully earn their respect and win a lot of ballgames for them."
Wentz, the 6-5 signal-caller from North Dakota State, became the first quarterback taken by the Eagles in the first round since Donovan McNabb in 1999. Both share the distinction of being the second overall picks in their respective drafts. After the Los Angeles Rams took Jared Goff with the draft's initial pick, Wentz's phone was buzzing with an incoming call from the NovaCare Complex.
"It was so cool because I got to talk to a couple of different people and hear how excited that they were," Wentz said. "Obviously I'm excited myself and to hear how excited they were and know that they believed in me enough to pick me that high, it's pretty cool."
When the Eagles traded up to the second overall pick last week, Wentz had a good idea that there was a chance he'd be donning midnight green in the near future. Now that he's been selected, Wentz is ready to get to work with Doug Pederson, Frank Reich and the rest of the coaching staff, with whom he hit it off with during his workouts with the team.
"What I came away with is that there are a lot of good people in that organization, especially with the three former quarterbacks (Pederson, Reich and quarterbacks coach John DiFilippo), that's a great place to go in and learn and soak up as much knowledge as I can as quick as I can," Wentz said. "I'm really fired up to be going to the situation I'm going to."
April 28, 2016 is a night that Carson Wentz will never forget. It's the night that his second-grade self was penning papers about in his classroom. It's the night produced by countless hours of hard work. Once it was a dream. Now it's reality, no matter how hard it is to believe for the kid from North Dakota.
"It's been pretty surreal," he said with a smile. "I've been dreaming about this since I was a kid."
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