WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The North Dakota State football players walked into the dome of the U.S. Capitol on Monday afternoon and stared up at the painting on the ceiling. They stared some more.

It was yet another tourist moment for the team that flew to Washington D.C. early in the morning and was wowed by President Donald Trump in a White House ceremony. It was a big time day.

Imagine being a college freshman who at this time last year was lifting weights and hanging out in Marshall, Minn. That was Trey Lance.

“I’ve never been anywhere near the East Coast,” Lance said. “This place is incredible, I couldn’t imagine being over here. And then meeting the President, the senator and everyone that helped us out to make this trip possible was pretty cool.”

The invitation to the White House was the idea of North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, who threw in a luncheon in the Capitol and tour afterward in the deal. Hoeven knows his Bison football, and he may get to know Lance before his career is over.

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Lance will be a freshman next year, again, thanks to the new NCAA four-game rule that allows a player who hasn’t redshirted to play up to four games and not lose a year of eligibility. Lance will compete with three other quarterbacks in spring football for the starting job to replace Easton Stick.

One factor was obvious watching him stare at the ceiling of the Capitol: He’s gotten bigger since last fall. He’s now 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds.

Monday was yet another highlight in a true freshman season of great experiences. He played in three games and earned the top backup job to Easton Stick at the end of the year.

“I could never have imagine for it to go like it has,” Lance said. “The opportunity that I’ve been given being able to learn from Easton, the coaching staff, the new coaching staff, I think God put me in this place and it’s his plan.”

Not only was the pomp and circumstance of Washington D.C. a great experience for Lance, he got to hang out with the graduated Stick for one more day.

“To see how the hard work can pay off,” said NDSU head coach Matt Entz. “But to also see how to handle yourself and be humble. Of all the accolades that Easton gets, he’s always about the team and his teammates.”

Lance said his favorite part of the day was hanging out in the Oval Office at the White House. It was an unscripted part of the itinerary, with Trump apparently inviting the players into his office at the last minute.

“That was pretty crazy,” Lance said. “I got some goose bumps, the kind of thing you think you’ll only see in movies but it was incredible.”

Lance, speaking after the Capitol tour, said he was hoping to tour the Smithsonian Institute and a World War II museum before the players had to head to Dulles International Airport and the flight back to Fargo.

They are sites he only read about it or saw on a computer previously.

“That’s about it, I never thought I would actually be here,” he said.