STILLWATER — Kyle Richardson half-jokes that he's been an expert at the Air Raid spread offense longer than Oklahoma State has been running that system.
Which is why it makes perfect sense that the coach's current quarterback at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill, S.C., three-star prospect Mason Rudolph, committed to the Cowboys last week.
“It's a match made in heaven, really,” Richardson said.
Richardson talked Friday about what makes Rudolph a special quarterback, how Rudolph's film got in OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich's hands and what he wants to see out of Rudolph in his senior season.
Rudolph has said that OSU got into the recruiting mix late. What was your reaction when you found out the Cowboys had finally expressed interest?
Our kids play all over the place, but Oklahoma State has never been in our doors and sat down or anything like that. But I sent his film link to about eight schools that run this system. I knew Todd Monken, because he was at LSU when I was at Southeastern (Louisiana as an assistant coach). I sent it to him, but by the time it got there, he had left. To be honest with you, it was just sitting on file, and when Yurcich got the job, he went in and took all the quarterback film, whether they had been offered or not and just started watching it and he fell in love with Mason. He immediately picked up the phone and called and said, ‘Is this kid available?' And I said, ‘Yes, he hasn't chosen anybody yet.' He said, ‘I'll get on a plane next week.' And the next week, he was in my office.
It does seem like the ideal fit for Rudolph.
The terminology is almost identical. The practice (structure) is identical. He was comfortable with what he does now, so why change it? Even though it's a little farther away from home, why change it? That was his mindset. Obviously being a great kid and all that went into the recruiting process, but that was the card that the Oklahoma State coaches were playing with him is, ‘You're great at it, stay in it. You can get even better and get the chance to come win and maybe even take it to another level.'
What are the biggest qualities you look for in a quarterback to run this system, and how has Rudolph most displayed those?
You've gotta be really, really quick in your decision-making, and you've got to be really, really quick in your throwing. Both of those things tie hand-in-hand. You can be quick in decision-making and slow getting the ball out of your hand and it really negates the other, or you can be slow in your decision-making but really, really fast at getting it out of your hand but you have no clue where it's going or it's not going in the right spot. He's got both of those intangibles, and that's what makes anybody that runs that style of spread great at it is being able to get rid of that football quick and being able to put it in the playmakers' hands and let them go make plays.
What does Rudolph need to improve most in his senior season?
It's hard to say, because he was pretty darn good last year. When it comes to that kind of stuff, he's got it. We've got a kid behind him that's gonna be a Division I quarterback … so that's what I've challenged him to do is be more of a vocal leader. You don't have to be ‘rah rah,' but be more of a vocal leader and take this one behind you under your wing and start grooming him to be the next great one for when you leave. Give something back.
Can you pinpoint the biggest reason why Rudolph is going to be a successful Division I, Big 12 quarterback?
About 10 minutes after (his announcement he was going to OSU), after all the interviews and all the patting on the back and (talk of) how great you are, he walked out the back door, put on his tennis shoes and walked right into the gym and joined his teammates in (a summer) workout. Now, if he had walked out the other side of the gym and said, ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime deal, I'm taking this day to be with my family,' I would have patted him on the back and said, ‘Yep, you deserve this.' But instead, he let all the hoopla go out that door and he walked out the back door and walked in with his teammates. That's the type of kid that you're getting, and that's why he's going to be successful at the next level.