Carson Wentz will never forget where he was when he received the phone call informing him he had just become the Eagles' starting quarterback.
"It was actually funny," the 23-year-old rookie said. "I was laying in a middle of a cornfield, hunting, when that happened. I got the call and I was obviously very surprised. But instantly I was really excited. A lot of excitement going on. Just got cleaned up and got out of there because there was just so many emotions going on. I was with my family and stuff. Now it’s just kind of down to business. But I can tell you I’m very confident and I’m very excited to get ready."
Wentz's shock and excitement is easily understandable. The North Dakota State product was gearing up to enter the 2016 season as a game day inactive. Now, as head coach Doug Pederson confirmed on Monday afternoon, Wentz is officially Philadelphia's starter under center.
The Eagles' original plan was to have Sam Bradford, who traded to the Vikings over the weekend, enter the season as the starter. The idea was to bring Wentz along slowly instead of immediately forcing the rookie into action. Despite the change in plans, Wentz feels he's ready now.
"The whole thing, all along, it was just getting ready for whenever this time would come," he said. "I knew I was ready. I knew I was taking the mental reps, being out for the last couple of weeks. Even going into the first preseason game, I felt very confident. I’ve developed at a fast pace and now it’s here. Now it’s here and I’m really confident in myself and confident in this team. And I’m excited for it."
Wentz said that there wasn't one specific moment when he knew he was ready to start, but he did point to the first preseason game as an experience that boosted his confidence. Despite finishing the game with an injury, Wentz did flash some serious NFL potential.
But while he showed promise, Wentz is far from a finished product. Growing pains are expected for any rookie passer, let alone one making the jump from NCAA Division I FCS competiton to the NFL. Wentz struggled with accuracy issues at times during the summer. He's not going to be without mistakes.
"That’s the way life is," he said. "That’s the way the game of football is. Especially young quarterbacks usually experience some bumps in the road. I’m just going to take them in stride. I’m going to learn from my mistakes and I’m just going to keep getting better and keep putting this team in good situations to win some ball games."
The Eagles obviously have high hopes for Wentz after trading up and selecting him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. It was always just a matter of time before Wentz took over, and now his time has come sooner than originally expected. It's Wentz's team now, and he knows the pressure is on.
"It kind of just is what it is. You inherit the pressure. I really just block it out. It’s just the game of football. I’m ready to go out there and play within myself, play within this system, and really lead these guys. The pressure and all the outside everything, it’s just the game of football. I’m ready to attack it and do my best."