OPINION: After Wentz, other ND athletes hitting big stage too

Former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz was drafted No. 2 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles during last week’s NFL Draft in Chicago.

Me (RGB)By COLE BENZ
Herald Editor

Former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz was drafted No. 2 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles during last week’s NFL Draft in Chicago.

By far this is one of the biggest national sports stories relating to North Dakota, and it could be the biggest in the state’s  sports history.

But it isn’t the only one to put a North Dakota university in the national headlines in the past 12 months.

In July 2015, University of North Dakota Pitcher/Infielder Jeff Campbell was crowned the College Home Run Derby champion at TD Ameritrade Ballpark in Omaha, Neb.

The senior blasted 34 home runs, with a record-setting 20 in the first round. To advance to the final round he hit four more. Campbell then hit 10 in the final round to defeat Will Craig of Wake Forest University. Craig hit five home runs in the final round.

Just nine months later, another North Dakota university student put the state in the national headlines.

Competing against seven other players—some from large Division I schools—University of Mary guard Devan Douglas took home the College Slam Dunk Contest championship in Cypress, Texas. The event was a part of the March Madness festivities.

The senior was one of the smaller-sized contestants, and the only one to hale from a Division II school. He ended up in the finals against Ike Nwamu of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, who missed his final dunk.

Douglas wowed judges with a 360 degree dunk to seal the deal.

Were either of these students poised to get drafted No. 2 overall in their respected sports?

No.

Do either of them have high prospects of making it to the professional level?

Probably not.

But I find it fascinating that these two athletes, from seemingly small programs, showed the nation that they can compete with the best of them. They should get some share of the North Dakota spotlight as it shines on the Great Plain state.

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