FRISCO, Texas — Angie Lance mostly stays off Twitter. That's probably a good idea for the mother of North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance.
"I was unprepared for the expectations," she said. "On the flip side of that, what awesome support they have. I couldn't imagine that, either. But the expectations are very high and I, probably out of our whole family, struggle with that the most and have to stay off social media. The mom kicks in then."
Imagine if Trey wasn't having a near-perfect season with the Bison 15-0 with the redshirt freshman quarterback having thrown 28 touchdowns passes and no interceptions. Imagine how social media would be then.
Angie and her husband Carlton, of course, hope to not find out.
These are the issues when your son is the starting QB for a team that's won seven of the last eight national championships.
Saturday is one more opportunity for their oldest son to continue to etch his name into NDSU football history. Trey will lead NDSU against James Madison in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision national title game, trying to become the fourth straight Bison starting quarterback to win a championship.
The others are a collection of some of the most beloved players who have ever played for the Bison: Brock Jensen, Carson Wentz and Easton Stick. Two are currently in the NFL.
By all indications, the 19-year-old from Marshall, Minn., has shouldered the burden wonderfully. Trey already won the Jerry Rice Award as the FCS top freshman and Friday we'll learn if he'll win the Walter Payton Award as the division's top offensive player.
A better question, then, is how are the youngster's parents handling this season, with the bright spotlight that follows NDSU football focused directly at their son?
"My expectation for him was that he would play well. Of course, nobody saw this happening with him playing this well and him being this prepared," Carlton said. "All the scrutiny and everything that comes with it, that's something that I'm not used to. I played defense. From high school on, he's just kind of grown into what's going on here. It's like, 'Wow.' It's been awesome. We're just kind of enjoying the ride. "
Carlton was inducted into the Southwest Minnesota State University athletic hall of fame in 2011. He was a star defensive back and track sprinter for the Mustangs, playing two professional seasons in the Canadian Football League and World League. He owns a finance company in Marshall. Angie works for Schwan's.
Carlton sounds like the ex-athlete and coach he is while discussing Trey's season. He says he's an avid game-film watcher and speaks of NDSU's culture and Trey's ability to "play faster" as the long season's grinded forward. Angie admits she's not a football expert.
Again, you can feel the mom kicking in.
"When people say, 'I hope he stays humble, keep him humble,' I get a little defensive about that because I didn't raise an arrogant jerk. He is 19 years old. When something goes great, the next thing might not go so great," Angie said. "Until we're 100 years old and we can look back on our lives and say we made a difference in the world, we have no reason to puff our chest. Trey knows that. There is no puffing our chest at 19 years old. The grounded thing does not concern me, but I hear it a lot. 'Keep him humble, keep him humble.' It surprises me every time somebody says that because why would you say that?"
Perhaps because it's natural to think a teen-aged star athlete who is already being tabbed by some as the best player in the FCS with the possibility of an NFL career would let the plaudits go to his head. Talk with Trey's parents for a half-hour, though, and it's clear the humility he shows in interviews and press conferences, always deflecting credit to his teammates and coaches, is legitimate. They've raised him well.
The question raised often as NDSU kept winning and Trey kept excelling was this: How did a 6-foot-3, 225-pound quarterback with a strong arm, blazing speed and high intelligence end up at an FCS school, even one as good as the Bison? Why wasn't there a Big Ten or Big 12 offer to play quarterback, given the importance of the position?
Boise State of the Mountain West Conference made a last-minute offer for Trey to play quarterback. Schools from bigger conferences wanted him to change positions and play linebacker or safety.
Carlton doesn't want to get into details about which schools recruited Trey to play what positions, but said he doesn't necessarily see bigger as better. He points out NDSU's ability to win national championships and develop quarterbacks into pro draft picks. Wentz and Stick were both drafted by NFL teams.
"They have a proven track record, they know what they are doing," Carlton said. "Otherwise you can go play in a ... Dec. 23 bowl. OK, that's it. That's just the way I look at things and the way we talked about things going through the recruiting process."
Said Angie: "When we went through the recruiting process, there were coaches who said, 'You can certainly go play in FCS and be a quarterback. You can do that. Or you can come here and play some other position.' That was always a big turnoff for me. Trey always wanted to play quarterback. It didn't matter that you had a bigger stadium. Maybe that's just my naivete. That didn't come into any part of our thinking."
It was time for the mom to kick in again.
"We want our kids to be faithful, happy, kind and healthy. If this makes Trey grow in his faith, makes him happy, he is kind and he stays healthy, that's all I want," Angie said.