Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (OSU) (copy)

As Ben Roethlisberger will miss the rest of the 2019 season because of an injured elbow, Mason Rudolph (above) is the Steeler starter. His first Monday Night Football experience was memorable. BEN MARGOT/AP file

In March 2018, Mason Rudolph completed 57-of-63 passes during Oklahoma State’s Pro Day event.

In attendance were coaches, scouts or front-office personnel representing all 32 NFL teams. Watching from a golf cart, T. Boone Pickens was among the spectators.

In 2014-17, as Rudolph became the most prolific quarterback in OSU football history, he and Pickens developed a friendship. Rudolph personally invited Pickens to attend the Pro Day exercise, during which one of the Rudolph pass attempts was a high fastball.



It would have been too high for many receivers, but not for James Washington. Rudolph’s favorite target elevated, made the catch and effortlessly resumed his sprint.

It was the highlight of the day, and it was witnessed on an up-close basis by Mike Tomlin. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ head coach was on the Sherman E. Smith Training Center turf throughout the session, standing within a few feet of Rudolph.

After the workout, Rudolph, Tomlin and Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert huddled for a private discussion. Pittsburgh’s interest was obvious.

A few weeks later, in the third round and with the 76th pick overall, the Steelers drafted Rudolph. The result was a resumption of the Rudolph-Washington connection. Washington had been taken by Pittsburgh in the second round.

As Ben Roethlisberger will miss the rest of the 2019 season because of an injured elbow, Rudolph is the Steeler starter. His first Monday Night Football experience was memorable.

With previously winless Pittsburgh hosting AFC North rival Cincinnati, Rudolph executed a conservative-but-effective passing game as the Steelers prevailed 27-3.

In the second start of his career, Rudolph was 24-of-28 passing for 229 yards and two touchdowns.

At the top of the 2018 draft class was OU’s Baker Mayfield, taken first overall by the Cleveland Browns.

During a classic 2017 Bedlam game – won 62-52 by the Sooners – Rudolph passed for 448 yards and five touchdowns. Mayfield passed for 598 yards and five touchdowns.

The Browns also are in the AFC North, so Mayfield and Rudolph will cross paths twice this season: on Thursday, Nov. 14 in Cleveland (televised on Fox and the NFL Network) and on Sunday, Dec. 1 in Pittsburgh (CBS).

On Sunday this week, Rudolph and the Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens.


Bill Haisten

918-581-8397

bill.haisten@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @billhaisten

Sports Columnist

Bill joined the Tulsa World in 1990. Prior to having become a sports columnist in 2016, he was the only sports writer in Tulsa World history to have covered OU, OSU, the University of Tulsa and Oral Roberts sports on an everyday basis. Phone: 918-581-8397