STILLWATER — Mason Rudolph will jet in to join the Cowboys this weekend.
The coveted quarterback commitment won't be in uniform and flinging passes, instead arriving as an unofficial visitor in time for Saturday's homecoming game against TCU.
Yet Rudolph's time appears to be coming, even potentially fast-tracked, considering Oklahoma State's offensive struggles and the South Carolina prospect's superb season.
Rudolph's plan is to enroll at OSU in January, enabling him to practice and compete in spring drills. That's not anyone's focus now, however, with the Cowboys trying to regain traction in the Big 12 and Rudolph and his (Rock Hill) Northwestern teammates aiming for a South Carolina state championship.
To date, Rudolph has thrown for 1,731 yards and 25 touchdowns, with just two interceptions, leading his team to a 7-0 record, the No. 1 ranking in Class AAAA and the No. 15 spot in the USA Today Super 25, just ahead of Jenks.
This week, he was named one of five finalists for South Carolina's Mr. Football Award. And at 6-foot-4 and 217 pounds, Rudolph is a four-star prospect ranked No. 7 nationally as a pocket passer among the ESPN 300.
Not bad for a kid who only started playing quarterback as a sophomore, following a Northwestern legend in Justin Worley, now the quarterback at Tennessee.
“Mason's first year, they just threw him right in,” said Bret McCormick, a sports writer for the Rock Hill Herald. “Last year, he kind of took off, with 41 TDs and just seven interceptions.
“This season, he's just kept going. As he's gotten better, they've reached a ridiculous level of offensive efficiency.”
Rudolph, who led Northwestern to the state title game as a junior, is completing 73 percent of his passes and has also run for seven touchdowns.
“Mason's not like a Robert Griffin, but he can really move when the play breaks down,” McCormick said. “He's pretty big and pretty strong.
“But he really doesn't have to run a lot, because on offense, they get rid of the ball so fast.”
Northwestern's offense: the Air Raid; same as OSU's.
And that, among other factors, might be the primary reason he's given his pledge to the Cowboys.
“It's exactly the same offense,” Rudolph told The Oklahoman shortly after he committed in June. “No-huddle, fast-paced, high-tempo.
“I'm a pocket passer. I'm not a Michael Vick-type runner, but I've got the ability to evade the rush in the pocket and make things happen with my legs when need be. I definitely have a good enough arm to make all the throws, I'd say.”
Rudolph's recruitment might have come during a perfect storm, considering South Carolina has hardly been a traditional recruiting ground for OSU. Locally, Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks are stacked at quarterback, and added an elite prospect at the position in Connor Mitch last February. Clemson has the nation's top-ranked dual-threat quarterback committed in Deshaun Watson.
LSU and Virginia Tech were in the mix with Rudolph, yet neither offense resembles the Air Raid.
One that does, North Carolina's — under former Cowboys offensive coordinator Larry Fedora — might have been tempting, since Rudolph's father played linebacker for the Tar Heels, but UNC has troubles with the NCAA dating to the Butch Davis regime.
“Not many people gave OSU that much of a chance,” McCormick said. “And people were waiting, thinking, ‘Any minute Clemson and South Carolina are going to come in with offers.' But they never did. Their situations were sorted out.
“So really, it was the scheme. He mentioned that it was far away and it was going to be hard for his family to make it to games, but he liked the coaches and the offense.”
And now, Saturday, he'll jet in for a closer look.
“It's a match made in heaven, really,” said Northwestern coach Kyle Richardson.