This announcement by Mason Rudolph and James Washington a couple days before the Alamo Bowl had Cowboy fans licking their chops about the potential of the 2017 season. It truly could be the best offense Oklahoma State has ever had, with one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and the best deep ball threat in the nation leading it.
Since the announcement, QB1 has gotten a lot of hype about his senior season. Multiple sites have put Mason Rudolph on their list of Heisman contenders for next season. Coming back from a year in which he threw for over 4000 yards, 28 touchdown passes, and only 4 picks, it is a legitimate thought that Rudolph could end up in New York at the end of next season.
At the beginning of last season, I wrote an article about Mason Rudolph’s Heisman chances for 2016. As we all know, my wishful thinking never came to fruition. So now, I shall revisit my previous thought...is Mason Rudolph a Heisman contender in 2017?
The bias in me says yes, absolutely. With the depth and talent at receiver, an experienced offensive line returning 4 of 5 starters, and a consistent running game that can take the pressure off of Rudolph, he should be able to put up video game numbers. He is already coming back as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, so he will get some Heisman buzz early on. In a conference where defense is usually optional, it is perfect for Rudolph to carve up the competition. A season with well over 4000 yards passing and 35 touchdowns is not out of the question for Mason Rudolph. That type of season could generate Heisman buzz, putting him up with the likes of Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield.
Now here is my realistic expectation, the short answer I believe is no. I believe Rudolph will have a great season, but I do not believe it will be Heisman-caliber. Mason Rudolph has incredible arm talent, and can make nearly every throw on the field, but there is nothing really "flashy" about anything he does on the field. I relate this idea to how Brandon Weeden was for the Pokes in 2011. Weeden had a fantastic season for the Cowboys, but barely got any Heisman notice until the end of the season, and it quickly went away after the loss to Iowa State. The winner that season was Robert Griffin III. While his team was not as good as the Cowboys, he had that "it" factor that Heisman trophy winners always seem to have. He made incredible throws, runs, improvised plays, had the "Heisman moment" against OU in a comeback victory. Weeden never had anything like that, even though it was a great season.
Two Heisman trophy finalists are coming back this season in Jackson and Mayfield, so Rudolph will have to keep up with them in order to win the most coveted trophy in college football. In order for Rudolph to have any chance, he needs to have that "it" factor Jackson and Mayfield had. Obviously, the three quarterbacks are very different in their styles, but it is possible that they all end up in New York. To separate himself from the pack, Rudolph needs to have that "Heisman moment" that can put him above the rest. This could be an amazing throw, a game-winning drive, a dominating performance in a blowout win (this was Jackson’s against Louisville). I see some possible games where we could see this moment from #2, but the season does not start until September 2nd, so there is still a long time until any of these thoughts can come to fruition.
What do you think about Mason Rudolph possible Heisman candidacy in 2017? Participate in the poll below and explain your answer in the comments. Or tweet your thoughts to @CRFF or my personal account @joeliopenfield to let us know what you think!