FRISCO, Texas – North Dakota State has gone from Fargo to Frisco for the fifth year in a row, and will get one last game with NFL prospect Carson Wentz at quarterback.
Wentz, who hasn't played since breaking his right wrist Oct. 17, will start Saturday for the four-time defending champion Bison (12-2) against No. 1 seed Jacksonville State (13-1) in the FCS Championship Game.
"It's been a long, frustrating process, to say the least. Lots of doctors appointments, things I didn't want to hear for a long time," Wentz said Friday. "About two weeks ago, I really started progressing quite a bit, started practicing almost full go, kind of getting my feet wet with practice. ... This week has been a whirlwind realizing I'm going to get a chance to start one more time."
When announcing that Wentz would start, North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman said Friday that he knew in the middle of last week that the quarterback would be ready to go in the championship game. And he has no concern about Wentz being rusty.
"No, not at all," Klieman said. "It's Carson Wentz. He'll be fine."
A CTI scan done Monday showed his wrist was healed.
Jacksonville State enters its first FCS final on a 12-game winning streak since an overtime loss Sept. 12 at SEC team Auburn. But the Gamecocks have been somewhat overshadowed by North Dakota State's unprecedented title streak and the ongoing questions about Wentz.
Wentz, considered a potential first-round pick in the NFL draft this spring, took over as the starter last season after three-year starter Brock Jensen won an FCS-record 48 games and three national titles. After throwing for 3,111 yards with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on way to the 2014 title, Wentz had 1,454 yards passing with 16 TDs and two interceptions in six games this season before getting hurt in a loss against South Dakota.
The Bison won all eight games, including their three playoff games, started by redshirt freshman Easton Stick. Klieman said the two quarterbacks split reps in practice and that Stick (1,642 total yards, 18 touchdowns in his nine games) would be ready to play Saturday.
"We wouldn't be in this position without Easton Stick," Klieman said as Wentz nodded his head in agreement.
"Can't say enough. Admire him, best friends," Wentz said. "He's done a tremendous job. I owe him so much."