OSU Football: Rudolph Well Versed With Media

Quarterback Mason Rudolph, now the unquestioned leader of the offense, is pleased with how spring practice is going.

When you are in a leadership position that often entails being careful, even guarded, with what you say, especially to the media. Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph learned those lessons well. I think it dates back to his high school days and playing for head coach Kyle Richardson at Rock Hill Northwestern. Richardson is a teacher of quarterbacks and a former college assistant coach himself, so he understands that level.

When Rudolph speaks he says things that make sense, but at the end of the interview all you find is upbeat and positive material. You won't find any coaches or teammates having any issues with anything that Rudolph says in front of a camera, microphone or reporter's notebook. 

"It's gone well so far, guys have pushed it and set the foundation in the first three practices," Rudolph said of the early spring. "There was a lot of intensity and everybody got back safe and healthy and picked up where we left off."

It's all milk and honey when Rudolph talks about his team, the offense, the young players stepping up on defense, and the returning offensive line and the development of the run game. Rudolph has everybody's back.

Now my guess is that in the locker room, in the meeting room, in the weight room, and the training table and anywhere else that players congregate and hang out, that Rudolph, while still remaining mostly popular, speaks his mind some. Rudolph is a stickler for details. He doesn't have a lot of patience for mistakes, his or anybody else's.

The fact is that the offense is not the finished product. The offensive line is improved, but there is a long way to go. Newcomers like junior college All-American Larry Williams and especially redshirt freshman Marcus Keyes appear that they may be able to break in the starting group somewhere and make the line overall stronger. Others could provide competition, but it isn't showing up yet.

At running back, I believe that Chris Carson is looking better, a little quicker than he did a year ago. Rennie Childs had a really good practice on Friday, but needs to do it day after day. Consistency has been the major issue with Childs. Raymond Taylor still does what he does, runs hard, and stays quiet and just does his job. Jeff Carr is bigger, maybe 15 pounds bigger, and he has some mini guns for biceps. He is more physical as a runner. There is a walk-on getting reps other than Taylor as former defensive end Tyler Johnson's little brother, Jakeem, is 5-9, 195 pounds.

Is the impending arrival of Barry J. Sanders from Stanford as soon as he has his diploma a motivating factor? You had darn well hope so. If not, then you might as well throw the group of running backs out. Sanders' arrival mixed with last season's performance ought to motivate like a week full of Rob Glass gassers.

The receiver group is not as big in numbers but it is talented. I could see James Washington, Marcell Ateman, Jhajuan Seales, Chris Lacy, Jalen McClesky, and Austin Hays being capable of making a lot of plays from tough catches to big plays after the catch.

Blake Jarwin and Zac Veatch are both playing really well at Cowboy back. Jarwin is proving to be that security blanket that a good tight end really becomes for a starting quarterback. Rudolph is very comfortable checking down to Jarwin, and his 6-5, 248-pound frame makes a really easy to spot and hit target.

Defensively, Rudolph speaks highly of the group and he should. The defense is ahead of the offense a little bit right now. We'll get into them more in a later story, but the key there will be depth and having multiple players ready to go at each position so defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer doesn't have to leave players out there for too many (60-plus) snaps against those up-tempo teams that tired out the Cowboys defense late last season.

Spring practice is going well, but I wouldn't classify it as going as well as it sounds coming from Rudolph, but that's part of his job as team leader and starting quarterback. Just know in private he is probably making a few more suggestions and probably in a pretty serious tone of voice.

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