Before he lived in North Dakota and became a star at North Dakota State, Carson Wentz lived with his family in Raleigh, N.C.
He was only 4 years old when the family moved up to North Dakota, but by then he was a North Carolina State fan for life.
When Wentz was a star sophomore in high school in Bismarck, North Carolina State had a smart, athletic quarterback named Russell Wilson.
Wentz instantly became a fan.
“I’ve always been a big fan of his, since I was younger,” Wentz said. “He was an N.C. State guy and I was an N.C. State fan as a kid, so watched him, followed him for a while, been a big fan of his, have a lot of respect for him.”
Wilson finished his college career at Wisconsin, but Wentz has always admired Wilson, who has a 52-20-1 record in 4½ years with the Seahawks, with three Pro Bowls, seven playoff wins and a Super Bowl championship.
“The way he came into the league right away, and kind of took it by storm as a (third-round) pick,” Wentz said. “It was impressive. I’ve got a lot of respect for him and looking forward to going up against him.”
Wilson makes his 73rd career start Sunday when the Eagles face the Seahawks at 4:25 p.m. at CenturyLink Stadium in Seattle. Wentz will make his 10th career start.
Wentz, much like Wilson in 2012, has been very impressive as a rookie quarterback.
His 65.0 completion percentage is fourth-best in NFL history by a rookie (Wilson’s 64.1 percent is sixth-best), and his 1.61 interception percentage is third-best (Wilson’s 2.54 is 13th-best). Wentz’s 87.6 passer rating so far is ninth-best ever by a rookie. Wilson’s 101.5 is third-best.
“He’s just really calm back there,” Wentz said of Wilson. “He’s got really calm feet and just very poised. I think it’s impressive the way he’s really poised.
“He still scrambles and makes plays and improves, which are things I think a lot of quarterbacks respect, but at the same time he never looks rattled. He always just looks very poised back there.”
Wilson is actually less than two years older than Wentz, although he’s now in his fifth NFL season.
“I’ve been fortunate to watch Carson this past year and see a few of his games and he’s playing great football and he’s going to be a great football player for a long time,” Wilson said.
“He’s athletic, he can make all the throws, he’s a smart guy, he’s competitive. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a great football player. You guys have a good one in him.”
Wentz and Wilson are both athletic and can move around, but where Wilson is a very capable runner — he’s rushed for nearly 2,500 yards with a 5.6 average in his career — Wentz runs only as a last resort.
Wentz's 13-yard scramble Sunday was a career long, and he has just 46 rushing yards and a 1.7 average in his rookie year.
“For me personally, I want to be a passer first,” Wentz said. “I want to throw first. When the pocket breaks down I might try to improvise, but I’m still trying to throw.
“I think Russell’s a little faster than me too, let’s not beat around the bush there. But I think it’s just the personality that I have. I don’t think it’s so much the play-calling as much as just the type of players we are.”
Wentz is aware of the challenge going into Seattle.
Since 2012, when the Seahawks started their run of playoff appearances, they’re 33-5 on their home field.
The only opposing quarterbacks to win at CenturyLink since 2012 are Carson Palmer twice and Tony Romo, Case Keenum and Cam Newton once each.
Only seven of those 38 opposing QBs threw more than one touchdown pass. Only two have gone into Seattle since 2012 and thrown more than one TD pass and no interceptions: Mike Glennon in 2013 and Romo in 2014.
Wentz was asked what it will take for the Eagles, who have lost four straight on the road, to win Sunday in Seattle.
“For us, we established the run game early last week and I think that was huge for us, to get the big boys up front going like that, to get Ryan (Mathews) going again,” Wentz said.
“I think it’s going to take an effort like that. We’re going to have to win in the trenches again and be sharp in the passing game, take what’s there, be smart. We’ve got to protect the football, we’ve got to limit our penalties — we still had too many last week that we have to clean up. We just have to play a very sound football game.”
The Eagles’ fourth-quarter comeback Sunday against the Falcons was their first in any game since a 30-27 win over the Colts in 2014, with Nick Foles at the helm, and it propelled the Eagles back over .500 after they had lost four of their previous five games.
“I think it gives us confidence for the rest of the season,” Wentz said. “We’ve always been a confident team. We always believe that we can get the job done, no matter the circumstances.
“Granted, the four losses we didn’t get the job done, so it was good for us all to show that we can do it and kind of get over that hump. It definitely gives us confidence going forward that we can finish ballgames and we are a good football team.”