Carson Wentz's priorities are visible on his right arm.
Tattooed on his biceps is an ichthys, the Christian symbol resembling a fish, and inside reads "Proverbs 3:5-6." Another tattoo, "AO1," which stands for "Audience of One," is inked on his right wrist, directly underneath the football.
"He's really faith-driven," said Randy Hedberg, North Dakota State's quarterbacks coach describing his former player. "I'd characterize him as a football junkie. He's going to be thinking about it — if he's not out hunting."
The trio of descriptors aptly fits Wentz, the Bismarck, N.D., kid turned Eagles quarterback taking over the City of Brotherly Love. Though it was in a South Jersey cornfield last month where Wentz was placed on the launching pad to stardom. While he was lying on his back goose hunting, of course, Wentz's phone rang. It was Eagles coach Doug Pederson, telling him they'd just traded Sam Bradford to the Vikings.
Right then, the 23-year-old's reign as face of the Eagles began.
"I was obviously pretty surprised," Wentz said. "It was time to roll."
And Wentz rolled, winning his first three starts before stumbling last week. On Sunday, he'll be throwing to avoid the Eagles' third consecutive loss when lining up against the undefeated Vikings — the favorite team of his friends and family in North Dakota.
"I hope they're rooting for me," Wentz said. "But who knows what they'll do."
Ahead of schedule
Those around Wentz say he was ready to start immediately after he was drafted second overall by the Eagles this spring. Hedberg points to a grounded approach through his faith, Bradford notes his dedication to a detailed game and others say it was the Bison offense of the Missouri Valley Conference that prepared him so well for the NFL.
Starting Wentz as a rookie wasn't the Eagles' initial plan. Under the direction of two former NFL quarterbacks in Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich, Wentz was supposed to sit and develop all season. That is, before Teddy Bridgewater dislocated his knee eight days before the opener.
"That's why it was obviously difficult going back to the trade," Pederson said. "Because I felt Sam was in a great spot with us offensively and was set to have a good season. I was fully prepared on having Carson sit the entire year."
Instead of standing on the sideline for the Eagles' opener in Cleveland, Wentz started and thrived. He threw for 278 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 101.0 quarterback rating in his NFL debut.
"I'm not surprised at all by the way that he has played this year, just because you could see it on the practice field," Bradford said. "He works at it. He cares about it. He put in a lot of extra time, and I think it showed up on the field for him."
Bradford said Wentz went "above and beyond" in the Eagles quarterback meeting rooms early on, compounding another advantage he brought into the pros. Wentz already had experience in an under-center, pro-style offense at NDSU, something an increasing number of quarterback prospects lack coming from the spread and option college offenses.
Wentz paced the Bison offense for two seasons and a 20-3 record. During games, he'd receive the play call and his options, relay to teammates and break the huddle. Then he'd assess the opposing defense and adjust the run or the protection at the line of scrimmage.
"All that really exposed me to the things of the NFL game," Wentz said. "Coming in here, those things were kind of second nature. The offensive system was similar as well. It really was a smooth transition for me. None of those mechanical things, logistical things so to speak, were really hard for me to learn."
The ultimate chess match
Wentz's sound decisions, paired with his NFL build (6 feet 5, 237 pounds), could soon make him a future star. Already he has shown signs of what's to come.
He threw 134 passes before his first interception, the third-longest streak to start an NFL career. A knack for reading defenses has kept Wentz's helmet above water as he has played particularly well against the blitz, said Greg Cosell, the senior producer at NFL Films.
Wentz's quarterback rating soars to 120.8 against extra pass rushers; he has completed 75 percent of his passes for three touchdowns and no picks, according to Pro Football Focus.
"I think he has great pre-snap recognition," Cosell said. "I think that's something he came into the league with. It's obviously much, much harder at this level, but I think having done these things in college has prepared him.
"Combine that with his size, his skill in throwing the football and his movement ability, he's got everything you look for when you look at an NFL quarterback."
With all due respect to the NFC East, Wentz's toughest test yet — and perhaps of his entire season — comes on Sunday against the Vikings' No. 1-ranked scoring defense, which is allowing just 12.6 points per game.
The Vikings' nuanced defensive disguises often lead to blanket coverage and waves of unpredictable pass rushes. That formula has enabled Mike Zimmer's crew to torment All-Pros Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton.
"Without question, this will be the toughest test not only for Carson Wentz but the entire Eagles offense," Cosell said.
Whatever Sunday's outcome, Wentz's steady approach leads many to believe he's built for long-term success in the NFL pressure cooker.
"He's not going to let the outside noise get a piece of him," said Hedberg, Wentz's NDSU position coach. "When he has issues, as far as adversity, I think he leans back on his faith.
"He's one of those guys that has his priorities set."