Mason Rudolph College Stats: How Patience Led to a 2024 NFL Playoff Start

    What stats did Mason Rudolph put up in college, and how did staying patient yield dividends for both the Pittsburgh Steelers and their quarterback?

    Mason Rudolph has always fallen somewhere between “elite prospect” and “deep sleeper.” He squeaked into the list of four-star quarterbacks and enjoyed a busy but not overwhelming recruitment.

    A mid-round draft pick, Rudolph has patiently awaited his opportunity in Pittsburgh and is making the most of it. What do his college stats and performances with the Oklahoma State Cowboys tell us about how he reached this point with the Steelers?

    How Mason Rudolph Patiently Became a Top Big 12 Quarterback

    Rudolph enjoyed a solid high school career at South Carolina’s Northwestern High School, throwing for over 10,000 yards in four seasons, launching him into one of the weirder recruitments you’ll ever see. 247Sports and Rivals gave him a four-star rating, but just barely. As a result, Rudolph camped nationwide to improve his recruiting stock.

    However, despite being on the road visiting programs every week, he didn’t see the high volume of offers you’d expect to see from the 20th-ranked pocket passer in the country.

    The offers he did receive came from high-level programs, including the LSU Tigers and Ole Miss Rebels, but neither in-state Power Five program offered, and he ultimately signed with Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State.

    There were those along the way who recognized his talent and thought he might enjoy a long, productive college career. After holding a backup role for most of his freshman year, he started the final three games of the season, throwing for nearly 900 yards and securing his starting spot for years to come.

    Rudolph entered his sophomore year as the incumbent starter and led the Cowboys to nine straight wins to start the season.

    Ranked as high as sixth in the nation, the Cowboys dropped three straight games to finish the year, the worst result being a 58-23 drubbing in the “Bedlam” rivalry against the Oklahoma Sooners, where Rudolph got injured on the first series. Still, the Cowboys QB put up over 3700 yards as a redshirt freshman.

    MORE: Oklahoma State 2024 Football Schedule

    In his third year, he began to receive mixed reviews from scouts. His numbers were undeniable — 4091 yards and 28 touchdowns to just four interceptions — but some questioned his ability to move in the pocket and debated the merit of drafting an air raid quarterback.

    Accordingly, Rudolph returned for his senior year, throwing for nearly 5000 yards and 37 touchdowns. Furthermore, the Oklahoma State standout added 10 scores on the ground in one of the best seasons ever for a Big 12 quarterback. This time, he was ready to enter the draft.

    How Mason Rudolph Ended Up in Pittsburgh

    Yet again, Rudolph found himself caught in the middle. He wasn’t considered one of the elite quarterbacks of his class, even though five quarterbacks landed in the first round. Those included his opponent Monday, former Wyoming Cowboy QB Josh Allen.

    Rudolph — who many thought could go as high as early in the second round — waited patiently into Friday, hearing his name called in the third round (76th overall). He was a Pittsburgh Steeler.

    Once again, Rudolph would need to be patient. Pittsburgh had Ben Roethlisberger and two other established backups. Even as a Day 2 pick, the path to securing a roster spot wasn’t cut and dry for Rudolph in Pittsburgh.

    However, he persevered, beating out Landry Jones for the third quarterback spot. In 2019, he earned the backup role over Joshua Dobbs, which played a huge part in his career trajectory. Roethlisberger injured his elbow in week 2, and Rudolph was immediately thrust into the starter role.

    Rudolph struggled in his first year as a starter, throwing nine interceptions to just 13 touchdowns. In 2020 and 2021, he sat behind Roethlisberger, playing just 96 snaps. In 2022, he sat behind Mitchell Trubisky and rookie Kenny Pickett.

    Still, despite a crowded quarterback room, the Steelers re-signed Rudolph to a 1-year deal in the spring of 2023.

    MORE: Big 12 Football Schedule for 2024-2027

    It’s a move that has paid dividends for both sides. On paper and in actuality, Rudolph was the third quarterback on the roster. Some teams don’t even carry three quarterbacks, but he remained patient. When Pickett went down in Week 13, and Trubisky earned the first two starts, he still remained patient.

    When the former North Carolina Tar Heel and second overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft struggled, however, Rudolph earned the chance to play. His patience had paid off.

    Since taking over, Rudolph has completed 74% of his passes for 719 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. Even though Pickett has been deemed healthy, it’s the former Oklahoma State’s team now, at least for the remainder of this year.

    Rudolph remained patient as a high schooler, in college, and then again in the NFL. Finally, he’s leading his team in the 2024 NFL Playoffs.

    Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

    College Football Transfer Portal Tracker

    Never miss a beat with the CFN-exclusive College Football Transfer Portal Tracker, listing the student-athletes entering and exiting the transfer portal.

    Related Articles