The serious pecking order after Chelf graduates following this season is Walsh, Garman, and now Rudolph. It might be hard to redshirt Rudolph and with his abilities as a more mobile 6-5, 210-pound quarterback from Rock Hill (Northwestern), S.C., that has a big arm, he is likely to make it hard to redshirt him.
"Where he is really is with his athleticism," said Northwestern High School play-by-play announcer Chris Miller. "When he gets out of the pocket he is still looking downfield for a receiver and while he could run and pick up yards he often still finds a receiver for a big play. I compare his out of pocket presence to Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers."
There is likely more upside to Rudolph than most highly regarded quarterbacks in that he has only played the position for two seasons. He came to powerhouse Northwestern High School in Rock Hill from Westminster Catawba School, a private school in the same community where he had played wide receiver.
"One thing you have to know about him is that he never took a snap in organized football until August of 2011," said Miller. "This is a young man that was a wide receiver and a defensive back when he transferred. He arrived at Northwestern and they told him you are going to be our quarterback. He was following the National Gatorade Player of the Year in Justin Worley, who is going to be Tennessee's starting quarterback this fall.
"Mason had the pressure of losing a new position, learning the air-raid offense and replacing a guy that had shattered every state record in South Carolina for passing, season career, everything. Worley broke them all, and Mason came in and his first year was a little shaky. His passes weren't always where they were supposed to be but he improved. He is a kid that wanted to learn and now he can make every throw that is asked of him and he is a game manager."
His first season at Northwestern he looked at times like a very young quarterback. There was some doubt in his decisions but he still completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,619 yards with 27 touchdowns and just six interceptions, about a 4.5-to-1 ratio.
Then Rudolph made a big jump last season, connecting on 69 percent of his passes (346-of-504) for 4,010 yards with 41 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. That is nearly a 6-to-1 ratio.
Northwestern High School coach Kyle Richardson, who also mentored and coached Worley, got choked up in introducing Rudolph at his commitment announcement on Wednesday. Richardson praised Rudolph for his contributions to the school and the football program off the field as well as on it. We are talking about a high character young man.
"As soon as he showed up on campus he became a leader and he associated himself with the right crowd," added Miller. "His values, his upbringing showed up and he is going to be the right guy. Coach Richardson will brag more about Mason and the person he is over the football player, and he is a very good football player.
Now, for Mike Gundy, Mike Yurcich and the rest of the Oklahoma State offensive staff, particularly Kasey Dunn and Jason Ray, they should be able to sell Rudolph's name out in recruiting. While Rudolph has not participated in Elite 11 and other combines and competitions like Nike's, he will be able to get his name out there and even contact some recruits and encourage them to give Oklahoma State and himself a look.
Northwestern is ranked 22nd nationally in one preseason high school top-25 poll. Quarterbacks usually are ringleaders in a recruiting class, and while his name is not as big as some others, Rudolph's recognition in recruiting will climb from this point on and that is exactly what the Oklahoma State wants him to do.
Rudolph, like with most quarterback commits, will escalate the recruiting process with offensive talent. J.W. Walsh did it and so did Wes Lunt. Rudolph may have a chance to influence some talent from the southeastern portion of the United States to move into the high tempo offensive neighborhood at Oklahoma State.