There was plenty of newly started Heisman Trophy candidate Mason Rudolph, but some other new and younger players making plays in the 2017 Oklahoma State Spring Football Game.
STILLWATER -- Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy promised a show and his Cowboys delivered and his quarterback with a recently launched Heisman Trophy campaign that was cryptic in nature was anything but as Mason Rudolph came out slinging the football to the talented receivers he was given to work with on the Orange team, including a red-shirt freshman Tyrell Alexander that nearly played some last season, but agrees was given a red-shirt that he says has made him more prepared to battle for playing time amongst the best receiver corps in the country. The Orange dominated the Black, but it is worth mentioning that with injuries to the offensive line that saw starters in right tackle Zach Crabtree and right guard Larry Williams along with back-up left guard Deionte Noel sitting out left 11 healthy offensive linemen and there were players in spots they were not real familiar with and many linemen that have never played in a college game. That said, the 24-0 win by the Orange had highlights.
It started off immediately as Mason Rudolph found Alexander in a route between defensive backs playing quarters or cover four across. It had the Orange started on a 10-play 75-yard drive that finished with a Jeff Carr two-yard touchdown run.
"Running the zag route, it was the first ball that Mason threw," Alexander said of his first catch of the day being his favorite. "It was a lot of fun to catch and seeing it was cover four and it was a good throw by Mason."
The red-shirt freshman out of Lancaster, Texas is 6-1, 185 pounds and he has speed and is a threat. He has shown up in spring football, which hasn't been easy to do with the likes of James Washington, who had three receptions for 31-yards for the Orange; Tyron Johnson; Marcell Ateman; Chris Lacy, who had two catches for 61-yards for the Orange; Jalen McCleskey, who had two catches for 29-yards, and his classmate and walk-on in Obi Obialo, who caught two passes for 33-yards including a fade from back-up Orange quarterback Taylor Cornelius for a 22-yard score.
Alexander insists hard work as a red-shirt and since has paid off.
"Today I felt real good making plays and I enjoyed being out there with Mason spinning it (the football) around," said Alexander. "Just preparing all spring and working hard, everything worked out right."
Rudolph played about four series and was more than happy with his work, albeit a light day. It has been kind of the theme of the spring as he has had a lighter workload.
"It was a fun day, kind of short for me. Felt like I had a good first half and had a few good drives in there. Got the ball to some new people like Tyrell Alexander and he had couple really nice catches. Overall, it was a good day and everyone stayed injury free and that's all you can ask for. It's great, it makes my job a lot easier with what we've got. It's going to be a fun summer and a fun fall camp with so many targets out there. It's on my shoulders to make sure I distribute the ball to all of them."
Veteran Chris Lacy, who had his longest catch on the sideline set up a touchdown, was more than happy with his day and the work of his quarterback.
"He did good," Lacy said of Rudolph. "He made some great passes and put it out there for us to make some good catches."
Obviously, the Orange did not have to punt the ball much, but when they did Zach Sinor was awesome as the returning starter who was a key in field position all last season averaged 49.0-yards on two punts and had a long punt of 56-yards. Matt Hockett punting for the Black averaged 49.6-yards on five punts and had a long of 62-yards.
"I felt good out there and the defense was out there and we executed well on the punt team," All-Big 12 candidate for next season Sinor summed up. "(Matt) Hockett (punting for the black) had a good day, so all-in-all it was a good day."
The Black struggled with with just 37-yards of total offense, but the defense had some highlights like Bryce Balous' interception of Rudolph at the start of the second half and a sack by Trey Carter, but the defensive tackle claimed he had another sack and from my viewpoint I agree with him. The sack in the first half would have stopped the second scoring drive by the Orange.
"He got cheated, yes, he got cheated and he let the whole world know he got cheated when he came to the sidelines," said fellow Black team defensive tackle Darrion Daniels. "It would have saved us a lot of energy if we had that sack, but in a real game you are going to get bad calls and you have to play through those."
The biggest rush of the day did not come on the field during the game, but afterwards when a huge line formed to get an autograph or a picture with Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph. Security was needed and OSU Director of Football Operations Mack Butler had to cut the line off. it was really unlike any autograph line or scene that I've witnessed at OSU.
"It's great, it's great to see our fans come out and interact with all of our players," said Rudolph, who signed an incredible number of autographs and took hundreds of pictures, some he posed for and some people were just taking. The scene was pretty amazing. Rudolph to his credit made it more about team, much as he does everything he does. "Beautiful day, fun day for us and fun day for the fans and a great turnout."