Fargo-Moorhead area football players get the chance to interact with Carson Wentz
MOORHEAD, Minn.—Wyatt Gunkel showed up at Jim Gotta Stadium on Friday afternoon, June 29, in a Carson Wentz jersey and khaki cargo shorts, not expecting he would be catching passes from the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback.
Had he known:
"I probably would have wore some more athletic clothes," said Gunkel, a junior-to-be for the Moorhead Spuds football team.
His wardrobe choices didn't prevent, however, Gunkel from making a nice over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone at the end of a 70-yard heave from Wentz.
"Catching a pass from a professional quarterback, that's always pretty cool," Gunkel said of the former North Dakota State star. "It was probably the longest throw, ever thrown to me. ... I saw it up in the air and I was like 'Holy cow, don't drop it in front of everyone.'"
Before his brief throwing session, Wentz addressed a group of around 250, primarily comprised of high school football players from the Fargo-Moorhead area. His faith, football and his fiance were among the topics he discussed during his appearance, which included a question-and-answer session, through Sanford Health, one of his sponsors.
"The beauty of having a guy like Carson in this is they've seen him come through the system," said Moorhead Spuds head football coach Kevin Feeney. "He's one of them."
Wentz won a Super Bowl ring with the Eagles last season, but was forced to watch from the sidelines after suffering a season-ending knee injury late in the regular season. He was in the league MVP race before his injury.
One of the high school players asked Wentz about dealing with the injury and not being able to play during the team's playoff run to the Super Bowl title.
"It was tough. I learned a lot about myself," Wentz said. "I'd be lying if I said it was awesome, sitting and watching the Super Bowl from the sidelines."
Wentz said he's not 100 percent recovered yet.
"I'm still working on it," Wentz added.
Maddie Oberg, Wentz's fiance, also attended the appearance at Jim Gotta Stadium. The Q&A moderator asked Wentz how he met Oberg. The two met on a mission trip.
"We were both over in Haiti serving the Lord," Wentz said. "I think it was love at first sight for me. I had to convince her later."
Wentz also talked about the challenges he had to overcome to become an NFL quarterback from his days at Bismarck Century High School to NDSU before he was picked No. 2 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Wentz was 5-foot-8, 125 pounds as a high school freshman. Now 6-foot-5, 237 pounds, he didn't play quarterback until his senior season at Century due to injury earlier in his prep career.
"That is a great message for these kids to hear," Feeney said.
Wentz told the players to relish the high school experience.
"It seems like it was just yesterday I was at Century High School," Wentz said. "I just want to challenge you guys to enjoy it every single day. ... There's nothing quite like Friday night lights."
Gunkel was impressed with Wentz's message.
"It was incredible," Gunkel said. "He's so humble and everything he said had a meaningful purpose to it."