STILLWATER — Mason Rudolph admits he was a bit surprised when he got that first Facebook message from Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich in February or March, then a scholarship offer during their first phone conversation.
“I've definitely known the tradition at Oklahoma State the past 5-6 years with (Brandon) Weeden and (Justin) Blackmon and that type of powerful offense,” Rudolph said. “I definitely knew who they were, but it was still kind of strange and out-of-the-blue, because I had never gotten a piece of mail, anything from them.”
But that out-of-the-blue initial contact quickly turned into serious interest from both sides. And now Rudolph is the Cowboys' newest commitment, as the three-star prospect from Rock Hill (S.C.) Northwestern High School announced Wednesday he had chosen OSU over LSU and Virginia Tech, among other schools.
“(After that first conversation with Yurcich), it was more, ‘Oh, it's cool to get an offer from them, but I'll never be going there. It's a ways away,'” Rudolph said Wednesday. “But after I kind of took a visit out there, it was great. Being there for the spring game, it was an awesome thing.
“Between the coaches, the facilities, the game feel, it just really seemed like a good fit.”
Rudolph's commitment helps fill arguably OSU's biggest need for the 2014 recruiting class. The Cowboys did not sign a quarterback in 2013 after Luke Del Rio decommitted and opted to walk on at Alabama when former offensive coordinator Todd Monken left OSU to become the head coach at Southern Miss. Then Wes Lunt announced he was transferring after spring practice.
And Rudolph's decision comes two days after OSU lost out on top-ranked quarterback prospect Kyle Allen, who had the Cowboys in his top five college choices but instead committed to Texas A&M. Rudolph said he knew OSU was also targeting Allen, but that Allen's decision to go elsewhere did not factor much into his choice.
“To be honest, I really didn't know where I was going (Monday),” Rudolph said.
A casual Google search quickly reveals why Yurcich would be immediately interested in Rudolph. A website dedicated to Northwestern coach Kyle Richardson's summer camp is called GoAirRaid.com, referring to the exact version of the spread offense that the Cowboys currently run.
Rudolph, who sports a 6-foot-4, 217-pound frame, passed for more than 4,000 yards and 41 touchdowns as a junior and led Northwestern to the Class 4A Division II state championship game.
“It's exactly the same offense,” Rudolph said of the similarities between Northwestern's offense and OSU's. “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 also comes from a football family, as his father, Brett, was a linebacker at North Carolina. And from a football town, as Rock Hill has recently produced South Carolina sack master Jadeveon Clowney and Tennessee projected starting quarterback Justin Worley.
After that first conversation with Yurcich, Rudolph continued to build a relationship with the OSU offensive coordinator. He then visited Stillwater for the first time for the Cowboys' spring finale in April, while Yurcich also made a trip to Rock Hill during the spring evaluation period. Rudolph then began to think seriously about his college decision during the past two weeks.
OSU could still be in the mix for another quarterback, as Norman North's David Cornwell is scheduled to visit Monday. But Rudolph is on board and on track to graduate in December, meaning he will be on campus to challenge J.W. Walsh and Daxx Garman for the 2014 starting quarterback job during spring practice.
And Rudolph is glad the recruiting process is, essentially, over.
“It's definitely been kind of a stressful past two weeks, something my family has been thinking about for a while,” Rudolph said. “Now that it's kind of wrapped up, I'm excited and very pumped about the opportunity at Oklahoma State.”