Born: August 6, 1979
It’s a long way to the NFL from Northwest Missouri State. The path is even longer when you begin at Springfield Catholic.
But Seth Wand took the path less travelled, and parlayed small-college success into a six-year NFL career. One of just three small college players drafted in the first three rounds of the 2003 NFL Draft, Wand is the highest drafted of Northwest Missouri State’s seven NFL draft selections.
“Seth was tough and strong on each down and had feet like a ballerina,” said former Missouri Southern head coach Bart Tatum, Wand’s position coach at Northwest Missouri. “He was one of the most dynamic and powerful players that I have coached.”
From multiple All-America honors to his appearance in the Senior Bowl to his NFL career, Seth Wand distinguished himself on the gridiron and that’s why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted him as a member of its Class of 2023.
Wand was actually a two-sport star in high school. He excelled on the basketball court as well as the football field, and that’s where most football recruiters saw him play.
“During basketball season there were football coaches coming to Catholic and watching our practices,” Wand said. “I enjoyed football and basketball during high school but was ultimately better at football.”
But make no mistake, Wand was a football player. His dominant play helped lead the 1997 Springfield Catholic Fightin’ Irish to the 2A state championship, one year after finishing as the runner-up. The ’97 team was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.
“Those teams were the perfect combination of players and coaching,” Wand said. “No big egos, no drama and if someone had an issue, the rest of us took care of it.”
Wand went from a high school powerhouse to a small-college juggernaut. Wand arrived as the Bearcats were in the midst of winning consecutive Division II National Championships. He was a member of the 1999 squad which finished the season 14-1.
As his Northwest career progressed, it became clear Wand was going to have opportunities at the next level. He was named first-team All-American by multiple outlets, and was invited to the 2003 Senior Bowl, where his potential NFL career gained even more traction.
“Like coming from Springfield Catholic, I was not anticipating playing at the next level, I just went out on the field and played my best for the team,” Wand said. “Even though Division II schools are not known for being NFL factories, Northwest has had its share of players. With that, seeing the attention players before me received and then seeing the number of scouts at the start of my senior season, I knew this was going to be a real thing.”
Not only are Division II schools not considered football factories by any stretch, players from the small college level (DII, DIII, NAIA) rarely get drafted. Only two small college players were selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, and both of those came in the seventh and final round of the draft.
With all of the attention he received, Wand has a pretty strong idea he would be selected in the 2003 NFL Draft. But even with that knowledge, the moment still resonated.
“It was very special and exciting,” Wand said. “I kind of knew I was getting drafted, but the question was when.”
The Houston Texans selected Wand 75th overall. He was the 11th player taken in the third round.
“When you are getting drafted in the third round from a Division II school, I think it’s like getting drafted in the first round,” Wand said.
As one might imagine, the difference between Northwest Missouri State and the NFL is significant. It’s sort of like the difference between a gorilla at the zoo and King Kong.
“Mistakes are smaller and everyone is strong and can run fast,” Wand said. “In college some guys are fast, and others are strong but not often both.”
After appearing in all 16 games as a rookie, Wand became the full-time starter at left tackle, the only player from Northwest Missouri to be a full-time starter in the NFL.
“The most rewarding part of my NFL career was being a starter,” Wand said. “Initially it was getting drafted but starting my second year was incredible.”
And now, as a member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Wand is thankful for those who supported him.
“My parents and coaches inspired and influenced me throughout my career,” he said. “I never wanted to disappoint them or let them down.”
Safe to say mission accomplished.