CHICAGO - At 8:22 p.m. Philadelphia time, Carson Wentz went onto the stage at the Auditorium Theater with an Eagles cap on his head and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell waiting with a green Eagles jersey in his hands. After a week of speculation and public debate, the Eagles landed the coveted North Dakota State quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft.
"Happy to be an Eagle," he said on the stage.
Unlike the last time the Eagles picked a quarterback in that spot, there was no booing from the Eagles fans in the crowd. Instead, there were cheers when Wentz's name was called, and, shortly after, an "E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!" chant was heard.
It was a surreal moment for the North Dakotan who rose from a little-known prospect to one of the headliners of the draft. His chosen song, "Fly Over States," by Jason Aldean, played over the speakers. He heard some Eagles fans, the voices of friends, and the supporters who made the trip from North Dakota.
Minutes earlier, Wentz had received a call from Eagles executive Howie Roseman. Owner Jeffrey Lurie and some coaches also took the phone. Wentz knew a call would come quickly, but he insisted he did not know it would be from the Eagles until Jared Goff answered the phone from the Los Angeles Rams as the No. 1 pick.
"It was kind of overwhelming," Wentz said. "Talking to a bunch of guys in the organization, hearing how excited they were and knowing I'm pretty darn excited myself. It makes it feel that much better and more special. And knowing what they had to do to trade up and knowing how much they must believe in me, it's pretty exciting."
By landing Wentz, the Eagles hope they found the franchise quarterback the organization has sought since Donovan McNabb was traded in 2010. Wentz, 23, is 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds and started for two FCS national championship teams in college.
Wentz was limited to seven games as a senior because of a wrist injury. He finished with 1,651 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 62.5 percent of his passes.
The Eagles traded five picks to move from No. 8 to No. 2 last week, a haul that sent away the team's 2017 first-round pick. Earlier, when the Eagles brass visited Wentz in Fargo, N.D., and flew him into Philadelphia, Wentz wondered how they would get in position to draft him. He figured a trade was possible.
Wentz reiterated how much he likes the Eagles' quarterback-centric coaching staff. He has heard that the team does not want to start him right away, and he will entrust the coaches with that decision.
"I don't know the first time it will be as a starter," Wentz said of playing, "but hopefully sooner than later."
Wentz will join a depth chart with an unhappy Sam Bradford as the starting quarterback. Wentz stayed away from a Bradford question Wednesday, and he remained diplomatic Thursday when joining Bradford became a reality.
"It's out my control," Wentz said. "I don't know what's going to become of that. It's not for me to speculate. All I know is I'm going to work my tail off. I'm going to compete, and I'm going to earn the respect of everybody, and chips will fall where they may."
Wentz knows about the Philadelphia fans' reputation for being demanding. That passion is attractive to him. The fans' high expectations match his high expectations, he said. He added that those fans can expect a "winner," a "competitor," and a "kid who loves the game."
That's what North Dakota State fans had become accustomed to when Wentz led them to FCS national championships during the last two seasons. He recognized the support he received in his home state, noting that there's a party at the local stadium in Bismarck, N.D., and speculating that the "Buffalo Wild Wings back home are pretty crazy, too." He brought his parents, brothers, stepsister, grandmother, friends, and girlfriend to Chicago for the occasion.
Wentz will find a brighter spotlight in Philadelphia, with the pressure that comes with being a quarterback, a high draft pick, and the target in one of the biggest trades in franchise history. Roseman told reporters that Wentz was the player the team wanted all along.
The last time the Eagles used the No. 2 pick, they selected McNabb. He was famously booed at the draft, but he played 11 years with the team and took it to five NFC championship games and made one Super Bowl appearance. That could be a tough benchmark to hit, but Wentz is aware of the high expectations.
After completing league-mandated obligations, Wentz had his family and friends waiting for him at the Chicago hotel. It gives him one last night to celebrate the achievement. He flies to Philadelphia on Friday as the future face of the franchise - and a desperate city's hope.
"You want to come in and hopefully call Philadelphia my home for a long time," Wentz said. "And hopefully win a lot of games, hopefully win Super Bowls. And you've got to take it one day at a time. But I'm going to hold myself to high expectations."