Oklahoma State Cowboys junior starting quarterback Mason Rudolph is listed on most All-Big 12 lists, not as the preseason first-team quarterback as that has been universally reserved for OU starter Baker Mayfield. But Rudolph is not of the mind to take a backseat to any other quarterbacks.
He may call them friends, and many of them were with him recently at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La. The Big 12 was represented by Rudolph, Mayfield, Texas Tech standout Patrick Mahomes, and Baylor quarterback Seth Russell. Former OU quarterback and now Texas A&M projected starter Trevor Knight was there as well. Rudolph likes all those guys, but it doesn't mean he doesn't want to beat them, because he does. He also wants to be the guy, all season, in all situations.
Last season Rudolph shared the quarterback position with senior and good friend J.W. Walsh, but by the end of the season and the AllState Sugar Bowl, Rudolph was antsy and looking forward to being behind center whether it was 1st-and-10 at the Cowboys own 20 or 1st-and-goal at the opposing team's 1-yard line.
You can't blame Rudolph for thinking that way as he watched Walsh come in during some golden opportunities, the kind quarterbacks look forward to in the red-zone or the score-zone, or short-yardage situations that made a big difference in games.
Here is a look at Rudolph and Walsh last season and remember Walsh was playing in particular situations that may have limited yardage some but certainly maximized scoring.
Mason Rudolph - Rushing 62 car for (-)35 yards, 1 touchdown
Passing 264-of-424-9 int., 62.3%, 3,770 yards, 21 touchdowns
Total Plays directly involved: 491 Total Yards: 3,735 Average per play involved 7.6 yards
J.W. Walsh - Rushing 77 car for 359 yards, 4.7-ypc, 13 touchdowns
Passing 57-of-85-1 int., 67%, 787 yards, 13 touchdowns
Total Plays directly involved: 162 Total Yards: 1,146 Average per play involved 7.1 yards
Because of Oklahoma State's issues with running the ball in a conventional fashion in most of the games, Walsh and his heavy involvement became a necessity to keep defenses honest. The hope is this season with a veteran offensive line, every starter returning, and several potential players that could spark competition in the line in fall camp such as junior college transfers Larry Williams and Shane Richards along with redshirt freshman Marcus Keyes, the potential is there for the line to improve and all of the key running backs return along with Stanford super senior transfer Barry J. Sanders.
If the running game shows improvement and keeps the defense honest and the offense offers some semblance of balance that is desired then Rudolph may put up even better numbers, potentially numbers passing that would be like his and Walsh's combined from last season.
An example of what is possible may be the one game that Rudolph played the vast majority of the snaps even though the offense only snapped the ball 53 times. Rudolph was the quarterback on 47 of the 56 snaps in the 49-29 win over TCU. He carried eight times for 26 yards and he completed 16-of-24 passing for 352 yards and five touchdowns. That is the extreme but a day slightly off those kind of stats would likely work just fine.
Rudolph is now on the watch list for the 2016 Maxwell Award, along with OSU wide receiver James Washington. You can expect both those Cowboys to make more watch lists before and after the season begins.
Back to all those other quarterbacks that Rudolph spent time with in in Louisiana and calls his friends. It is a fraternity, he told me after getting back. He also talked to us about spending time with Peyton Manning and discussing the finer points on quarterback procedure, particularly something Manning is famous for and Rudolph is also known for around the Oklahoma State program and that is watching lots of video.