Carson Wentz wanted to win so much that he sometimes would cry when he didn't play well or after his teams lost in midget football or little league baseball.

He was only 11 or 12 at the time, so it wasn't as if his behavior was abnormal. But his emotional outbursts were what Ron Wingenbach, whose son played alongside Wentz, remembered most about Wentz's temperament.

Coaches didn't have to motivate the athlete. No one was more critical of Wentz than he was of himself. He didn't cry because of outside pressures or out of embarrassment. The emotions bubbled to the surface because his will to win lacked context and his psyche was in its formative years.

And Wingenbach, who would eventually become Wentz's high school football coach, was able to watch the transformation as the future NFL quarterback matured.

"He was very competitive. He did not like to lose. And when he did lose he was very upset, I'll be honest with you," Wingenbach said recently. "And I think as he matured he probably realized that there were a lot bigger fish to fry than that immediate game.

"He wanted to be the best in everything he did, whether it was in the classroom or on the football field, the baseball field, or the basketball court. He wanted to be the best out there."

Wentz, it would seem, has a lot in common with Eagles fans. They both want the best, and when they don't get it, they can be brutally honest. But Wentz has never faced the external pressures he will encounter when he eventually becomes the franchise's starting quarterback.

The Eagles, of course, must still select Wentz. But it is more than likely, after the Rams choose quarterback Jared Goff, that he will be the next name NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announces during the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night.

It's unlikely there will be a chorus of boos, as there was when the Eagles drafted Donovan McNabb in 1999. But the team's decision to trade up to No. 2 last week - and give up three picks - has been bemoaned by many fans and some Philadelphia media. And Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson haven't been the only targets.

Wingenbach and several others who know Wentz say that he gets it and that he will be able to handle playing the most scrutinized position in all of American sport in perhaps the most nitpicking city.

"The one thing about Carson is he understands that everybody wants to win and everybody wants to be associated with a winner," Wingenbach said. "There are going to be ups and downs, but last I remember it's a team game. And although the quarterback probably gets way too much credit when they win and not enough credit when they lose, I just think he would be able to monitor that closely."

Century High School football is a pretty big deal in Bismarck, N.D. The team has been to several state finals and won its first title last year. Wingenbach said games against intra-city rival Bismarck High draw about 4,000 to 5,000 fans.

North Dakota State University, where Wentz played in college, is as big as football gets in the Upper Midwestern state known best, perhaps, for being the Dakota without Mount Rushmore. Most of the discussion on sports-talk radio - on 740 "The Fan" in Fargo, where NDSU is located, and on 710 "The Fan" in Bismarck - is devoted to the Bison.

The tone is not to be confused with Philly's WPEN-FM (97.5) "The Fanatic" or WIP-FM (94.1).

"It can be negative," Wingenbach said of the talk-radio chatter, "but traditionally, it's very, very positive."

Mostly, that's because the Bison hardly ever lose. They've won five straight Football Championship Subdivision titles.

"Fortunately for us, we haven't lost very much - period - in anything," Wingenbach said. "And Carson, I don't think he's lost much in anything he's done."

The Eagles, of course, have won more than they've lost this century, but a Super Bowl title remains elusive. As prepared as Wentz may be, there is no way to know for certain how he'll respond to hardship and criticism of the highest order.

"That's the million-dollar question," ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said. "That's something you're going to have to prove, no matter who you are, whether you're a player or a coach in the NFL, and especially in Philadelphia, given what the Eagles just gave up to get a player.

"Let's just say it is Carson Wentz, there is a tremendous amount of pressure. But the one thing that stands out about Wentz is his off-the-field intangibles. He's a two-time captain, he's a 4.0 GPA, he's a fifth-year finishing senior, valedictorian in high school, very faith-oriented."

Wentz has faced adversity, however minor. A broken wrist sidelined him for most of his junior season at Century High, and he didn't start at quarterback until he was a senior. He suffered the same injury last year and missed eight games for the Bison. In both cases, Wentz's response to injury, his recovery, and his return displayed a high character.

Wingenbach said he recalled the disappointment in Wentz's voice when he told him that he would miss significant time during his junior season.

"Very disappointed," Wingenbach said.

Wentz had won the starting quarterback spot before the injury, but he was willing to play wide receiver and safety when he returned for the final three games.

Six years later, he fractured his wrist against South Dakota in the sixth game of the season. He missed the final five games of the regular season and three playoff games. He was already one of the top-ranked NFL prospects and had already earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl, but he opted to play in the championship game against Jacksonville State.

Wentz threw for a touchdown and ran for another two as North Dakota State won, 37-10.

"He stayed loyal. He stayed with his team," Gruden said. "He helped develop a young quarterback. He didn't leave town to start doing exercises with some mysterious strength coach to get ready for the draft. This guy finished. I love that about him."

Mike Mayock started following Wentz closely during the offseason - first, at the Senior Bowl when the FCS quarterback showed that he could compete against Division I-A players.

"He's not overwhelmed at all. As a matter of fact, he's the best quarterback there by far," Mayock said. "Handled himself beautifully. Every team I talked to at the Senior Bowl fell in love with this kid.

"Now there is increased pressure in Indianapolis with the combine. Again, handled it beautifully. People come away buzzing about this Carson Wentz kid. I go to his pro day in Fargo, North Dakota. I spend a day and a half. His teammates love him. His coaching staff loves him."

But will blue-collar Eagles fans love him when he eventually succeeds Sam Bradford? Winning and losing, of course, will ultimately decide. But Wingenbach and others said that Wentz would win Philly over, either way, because he is blue-collar.

"It's kind of that North Dakota, upper Midwest type of mentality," Wingenbach said. "He's all about work and putting a good day's work in to get a good day's pay, so to speak. He's all about that. And that, to me, is what will make him successful at the next level."

Wentz appears to share Philly's passion for winning. Unfortunately for Eagles fans, there has been more crying than celebrating for the last half century. Will he end the years of tears?

@Jeff_McLane