This past June, Carson Wentz and a host of former NDSU stars turned out for the Carson Wentz Audience Of 1 Foundation’s (AO1) third-annual charity softball game at Newman Outdoor Field. Our team stopped by to capture some awesome content from the festivities.
About The Carson Wentz A01 Foundation
The Carson Wentz AO1 Foundation was founded in 2017 with the mission of “uplifting individuals and communities around the world by demonstrating God’s love for His people” through three ministries: the Outdoor Ministry, Thy Kingdom Crumb and the Haiti Sports Complex. For additional information visit:
Pregame Press Conference Snippet
Carson Wentz QB Washington Commanders
What’ve you enjoyed so far about the D.C. area?
“It has been fun, honestly. The facility is about 45 minutes outside of D.C. so we’ve explored Virginia [more]. It’s been fun. It’s been a really pleasant surprise. There are a lot of outdoor things. A lot of hiking, a lot of family-friendly places, parks. My wife and I like to take our girls and get away. There’s lots of good food and good golf. It’s been fun. It’s been a pleasant surprise outside of football.”
Did you know?
Carson Wentz, selected No. 2 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016, is the highest drafted FCS player of all time.
Carson Wentz Career NFL Statistics
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Easton Stick QB Los Angeles Chargers
Still, just a couple of years in, do you think you’re comfortable with the rigors of professional football yet or is it still sort of a learning process?
“I think I’ve experienced a lot in three years, a couple of different coaching staffs and new offenses. I played under Phillip Rivers and Tyrod Taylor, two veterans, as a rookie not expected to really contribute much on the field that year. Then, we go into the next year and they took a rookie No. 6 overall and we have COVID and all of that. There’s been a lot that has gone on. I’ve learned a ton, but I’m really appreciative of the Charger’s organization. There’s really good leadership and really good people there.”
Did you know?
With a career collegiate record of 49-3, Easton Stick became the winningest quarterback in FCS history during his time at NDSU.
Pregame Q&A With
Cordell Volson, OL Cincinnati Bengals
What’s it been like living outside of North Dakota for the first time in your life?
It’s been great. It’s been a lot smoother of a transition than I was anticipating, but it’s been really good. I like Cincinnati. I like the city. The people have been great to me. To be able to go to a city like that that really loves football and cares about winning, it’s great. I don’t want to say it’s like being in Fargo, but it’s kind of got that feel to it a little bit.
Have you found anything fun around the city that you’ve enjoyed outside of football?
You know, I haven’t had a ton of time to get out and do some things, but it’s a nice area. They have a river that comes through there and they have all kinds of stuff to do along the river. There are a lot of cool things and stuff to do around there. They have parades and stuff like that. All of the suburbs kind of have their own small-town feel. They have their own little small-town events and that’s cool. That’s something that I’m really looking forward to being a part of.
A lot has been made about your position versatility and the fact that early on in the offseason here, they’ve had you working at both Guard spots. With that and the added dynamic of absorbing an NFL playbook, what has that experience been like?
It’s been great. I was fortunate at NDSU. We ran a ton of offense, so, I have a good grasp of all types of schemes. You know, the versatility piece—the best ability is availability. So, if you’re able to step in at any position and play, you’re going to make yourself really valuable to the team. If that’s something that helps me moving forward, that’s sure as heck something I’m going to do.
Did you know?
Cordell Volson was selected in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals?
Ben Ellefson, Te Minnesota Vikings
Going into your second year in Minnesota, what has the coaching change been like?
It has been great. This coaching staff has done a really good job. The offense has been great. Obviously, having a younger head coach is the way the NFL is moving and to have that at the Viking’s facility has been pretty special. We’re installing a whole new system so obviously there’s a bit of a learning curve there, but I think everybody is really excited in that building and I’m very excited to move forward with it.
Everyone always talks about the process and the attention to detail that goes on at NDSU. How do you think that has prepared you for the NFL?
It’s a testament to NDSU and the coaches they bring in and the importance they put on attention to detail. I think it all starts in the weight room with Coach Kramer. That first summer you’re up here, you kind of learn what you’re getting yourself into and you either learn how to do that and you learn to work in the system that NDSU has created or you don’t and you don’t end up lasting. A lot of what I’ve learned through NDSU has prepared me and I don’t know if I’d be at the level I’m at, or if I would have had the opportunities that I have had if I would have went somewhere else, just because of what NDSU has done for me.
You grew up in Hawley, MN. What do you think are some of the added benefits of going to school so close to home?
It’s great. Having that community of support and people there for a home-cooked meal, advice or whatever is great. My parents are always there. I have a lot of friends that went to NDSU and to be able to be around them is pretty special. Not a lot of people get to do that. Some people go halfway across the country and they don’t see their family for five years while they’re at school. I was very blessed to be able to go to school close to home and to have the success that we did at NDSU, winning four national championships in my time there—that was pretty special.
At NDSU you were very involved in the passing game. However, that was somewhat limited to the red zone. How did that experience prepare you to embrace what has been, to this date, more of a blocking role in the NFL?
It’s all about finding your role, accepting it and embracing it. You’re not always going to be the star, having 100 catches a season, but as long as you can embrace your role, that’s what it’s all about. Special teams is another really important thing at the NFL level. For anyone trying to make it, that’s how you do it, by impressing on special teams and working your butt off.
Did you know?
Ben Ellefson has appeared in 12 games across two NFL seasons which is no small feat for a former undrafted free agent.
Advice For The Children
Earlier in the day, local high school and youth football players had the opportunity to listen to a Q&A panel with three former Bison football players that are currently in the NFL. Here’s some advice they had to give.
[Speaking about the importance of being a multi-sport athlete] How do you think basketball helped you in your football career?
“There are a lot of correlations. You need a little bit of a break in between sports just to kind of clear your head and let that season go and move on to something else. I also really enjoy basketball. I had a really good senior class. We were all very competitive with each other in football and basketball. [Even at] recess when we were younger…Becoming an overall athlete, I think there’s a lot to that in growing and learning and applying it to that sport you want to do.”
Carson, obviously a really good football player, but it was basketball and baseball for you as well?
“I think being a three-sport athlete was important for my development growing up, I think physically, but also mentally. I kind of played basketball and then I didn’t, then I went back out my senior year and I think I learned more my senior year playing basketball about who I was and being part of a team than I did in football that year because I wasn’t a star. I was a role player. I played the heck out of some defense. I got some rebounds and did my share, but I learned what it was like to be on a team and know my role and learn how teams functioned and being a leader even when you’re not the star, the guy in the newspaper every single day. I learned quickly how to adapt and have that mindset that I could translate into the rest of my football career. I think mentally there’s a lot you can learn from another sport. Ben kind of touched on it, giving yourself a break. If you’re trying to pursue a sport professionally, you can burn out quickly.”
How important are hitting the books and the grades?
“It’s valuable. I was lucky that my parents stressed that my whole life. I was lucky to grow up in a household where if my grades weren’t good, I didn’t get to go to practice. It wasn’t even an option. It was a nonstarter. I learned from an early age. I’m a firm believer that how you do one thing is how you do everything. You might think that stuff isn’t important, but it bleeds and leaks into what you really want to do. Sometimes sitting in class and learning algebra or history or whatever it is isn’t your favorite thing to do, but applying focus to that and having [the] discipline to do the things that you’re not necessarily super passionate about strengthens you and really allows you to go chase the things that you are passionate about. It was super important [for me] and I wouldn’t have been able to do what I wanted to do athletically without doing what I needed to do at school and at home.”
A Fun Event For All
To learn more about the cause this event supports, visit ao1foundation.org and be on the lookout for next year’s game