FRISCO, Texas — Let's be clear on something: the flight to North Texas isn't unfamiliar to Trey Lance. In 2020, as quarterback for North Dakota State, the eventual third-overall pick faced off against James Madison in the 2020 FCS Championship Game, where he took both the hardware and the honor of MVP before heading to the San Francisco 49ers and, now, the Dallas Cowboys.
He also trains in Fort Worth in the offseason, so his landing with the Cowboys feels a bit like kismet, though he will have to acclimate to the Texas heat wave in addition to offensive installs.
"It helps for sure," Lance said of his familiarity with the Metroplex. "I got a little intro to the heat this summer. It wasn't anything like I expected."
Speaking of the unexpected, the trade itself falls into that category — seeing as it came out of nowhere and materialized quickly once the Cowboys and 49ers got on the phone, the former refusing to let the latter off of the line until Lance was heading to Dallas in exchange for a fourth-round pick.
The 23-year-old is now "100 percent" healthy after suffering a season-ending ankle injury in Week 3 of the 2022 season, one that required an additional procedure later in the year. He is ready to hit the ground running in putting in as much extra work as head coach Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys will put on him and, rest assured, it'll be quite a bit.
That workload will include learning as much from Dak Prescott as possible.
"He welcomed me with open arms," said Lance of the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback. "... It meant a lot to me. This business is crazy but, for me, I'm not looking forward — at all. I'm just trying to take it one day at a time. This guy has played at a very high level for a long time so, obviously, just tons of respect for him, as I think he deserves and gets from across the league.
"I'm just trying to learn everything I possibly can from him."
Lance, a two-time national champion and former Walter Payton and Jerry Rice Award winner, is entering the quarterbacks room with Prescott and incumbent backup Cooper Rush with his eyes and mind completely open.
"First and foremost, I've gotta learn to have an opportunity to help anyone in the [QB] room and anyone on the offense," he said. "That's really what I'm focused on: learning enough to be able to contribute."
Needless to say, there was disappointment on Lance's behalf when it was discovered the 49ers would go with Sam Darnold as immediate backup to Brock Purdy but, after taking some time to sit with the decision, Lance came to a point of acceptance and simply waited to see what the next stage of his NFL career would look like.
Spoiler: it looks like he's wearing a Cowboys uniform.
"I really tried to not expect anything one way or another, but I can say that when I heard it was the Cowboys, I had a big smile on my face," said Lance. "I'm very excited to be here. … I believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe I'm here for a reason and, regardless of what it is, I'm here to try and find a way to help this team."
He'll get ample opportunity to do exactly that going forward in what could be a complete rebuild of his football brand after things went awry in California.