Carson Wentz, meet the feetfirst slide.

Learn it and learn to love it. It will be your friend.

The new Eagles quarterback never slid at North Dakota State. While NFL quarterbacks are considered defenseless once they are in the process of sliding and are off-limits to defenders, their college counterparts are given no such benefit.

But Wentz didn't slide only because there wasn't any advantage. Giving himself up just wasn't in his nature. And the Bison utilized that aggressive mentality - along with his athleticism - by calling, on average, 10 designed quarterback runs per game.

"It would be called a run play, and instantly - 'quarterback power' - I'm running the ball," Wentz said recently. "I'm turning into the guy next to me. That's my job now."

Clips of Wentz the runner - he rushed for nearly 1,000 yards in 23 starts - is on the internet for all to see. There he was hurdling a defender in his first career collegiate start. There he was lowering his shoulder and barreling over a Youngstown State safety into the end zone.

There was Wentz slipping a would-be tackler and scoring the game-winning touchdown in the Football Championship Subdivision national championship game during his junior season. And there he was a year later stiff-arming another victim for another score in another national title victory.

Wentz almost looked as if he was performing at another level. He clearly could have thrived at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, but it's hard to dispute that the competition he faced in the FCS wasn't as advanced. The players are smaller and not as fast.

Wentz could get away with some of the stunts he pulled at North Dakota State. That won't often be the case in the NFL, where the margin for error is slim and the chance of quarterback injury is higher.

"I love his aggressiveness when he's running out of the pocket. I think it's part of who he is, it's part of his chemistry," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said after Wentz was selected No. 2 overall in the draft. "But in the National Football League there's going to come a time when you've got to get down or out of bounds."

The Eagles aren't likely to restrict Wentz and turn him into solely a pocket quarterback. They believe they have a thoroughbred, and it's not as if Pederson's West Coast offense won't have room for horses.

The Chiefs, where Pederson spent three seasons as offensive coordinator under Andy Reid, had an assortment of run plays for quarterback Alex Smith. Reid gave Donovan McNabb that kind of freedom early in his career with the Eagles, but even McNabb understood that running made him more susceptible to injury, and he eventually took the wheels off.

Some quarterbacks have had a harder time reeling in that instinct. Michael Vick may be the most notable. His issues with protecting himself were twofold. When Vick ran into trouble it was either because he held the ball too long or because, like Wentz in college, he forgot he was a quarterback whenever he crossed the line of scrimmage.

And when he ran - and ran into trouble - he simply couldn't slide. Vick tried once, and it was awkward. He eventually learned to just plop forward to the ground, late in his career. Even Nick Foles, by no means mobile, had trouble sliding like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady - two of the better practitioners.

Wentz said he didn't think he even slid feetfirst in baseball - rather going headfirst Pete Rose-style.

"I'm sure I was that guy," Wentz said.

He's got a bit of Charlie Hustle in him, which could endear him to Eagles fans and his teammates. Vick had those traits, as well, but it became a detriment as injury after injury piled up. Wentz fractured his right wrist early vs. South Dakota last year, but he finished the game anyway.

He said the injury occurred just after he threw a pass when he was pushed to the ground and he fell awkwardly on his hand.

"It was fluky," Wentz said.

Wentz's only other significant injury occurred during his junior year at Century High in Bismarck, N.D., when he broke his thumb playing safety. He played both ways starting in midget football all the way through high school.

His first positions were running back and linebacker. He stayed at the former position for only one year, but, like Vick, who has admitted he had trouble exorcising his running back instincts, Wentz said he "maintained that mentality."

"I just loved the contact," he said.

When he got to North Dakota State he redshirted his freshman year and sat the next two behind starting quarterback Brock Jensen. There's no reason to think he couldn't have switched to defense and had success.

"I remember the first couple of years . . . the defensive end coach would walk by our meeting room every day [and say], 'Any time you want to come down, any time you want to come down,' " Wentz said. "And I was like, 'I'm good. I'll get my opportunities.' "

He should get his opportunities in the NFL. He just has to pick his spots and use the sidelines and the feetfirst slide as protection. Russell Wilson would be the model of how to defend oneself if the Eagles plan on running Wentz as often.

Cam Newton has been one of the few dual-threat quarterbacks to instigate contact and avoid injury. He has been aided by his size (6-foot-5, 245 pounds). Wentz has similar measurements (6-5, 237) and could even stand to add more weight.

Additional bulk could help in other areas. Quarterbacks spend the majority of their time in the pocket, and that is still where they are most susceptible to injury. Wentz was prone to holding the ball too long in college, partly because he could extend plays with his feet, but he also sometimes couldn't hear the alarm clock go off in his head.

"There's a time and a place to extend plays, and there's a time and a place to just concede defeat," Wentz said. "You know you're not going to win every down, but you've just got to understand situations and be smart about it."

Few, if any, have questioned Wentz's intelligence. He's obviously bright, having never scored less than a B throughout his schooling. But there's book smart and there's common sense smart. The best ability, the saying goes, is durability.

"There's different ways to protect yourself," Wentz said. "It's falling down, it's going out of bounds, it's sliding. But I'm going to learn how to protect myself. I don't want to get hit either."

Slide, Carson. Slide.

jmclane@phillynews.com

@Jeff_McLane