Rudolph: 'I seriously can't wait'

If you look at Mason Rudolph's shoulder, you might notice something. And no, I am not talking about the powerful arm. 

What you might see, is a chip. One that will motivate the Steelers third-round draft pick for a long time.

"It'll stick with me every minute of every hour from here going forward until the day I die," said Rudolph. "It's definitely like a burning fire."

When Rudolph was a star quarterback at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill, South Carolina, many expected he could end up at South Carolina, a school only 70 miles from his home. That didn't happen, due in large part to South Carolina never offering him a scholarship. And they weren't the only team who didn't come calling. He received only nine scholarship offers, eventually deciding Oklahoma State gave him the best opportunity, since none of the schools close to home were willing to give him a shot.

Fast forward to the 2018 NFL Draft. Draft experts had Rudolph expected to go as high as the first round, while others had him in the second or third. Every team passed over him in the first round, and it happened again in the second. It wasn't until the third round, when the Steelers traded up three spots for the No. 76 overall pick, that his name was finally called. 

"It was agony. It was rough," said Rudolph. "Everyone talks about when people have to wait a while and how rough it is. I just remember sitting in my bedroom with my dad and my brother just looking at Twitter, trying to kill the time, and then I got a random call from Pittsburgh. I was immediately thrilled. I kind of had a feeling what it meant.

"Obviously you never know what teams need, but there wasn't a quarterback taken in the second round. I felt like talent-wise, experience, I was a first-round quarterback.

"Yes, absolutely, 100 percent I have that chip, but I am going to make it positive. I definitely had one coming from high school into college, and from college to now. The draft made it even bigger. It burns me up, and I can't wait to start playing, and start practicing, and start pouring myself into this building and just get to work. I seriously can't wait.

"That part of the process is now over. I couldn't be more thrilled to be in this situation. It was one of the situations where I kind of had my finger on the whole time. I thought if I get a chance to be a part of this organization, one that everyone has nothing but great things to say about it, with a chance to play whenever the time comes, it's great. I'll prepare like I'm a starter and compete my butt off to get ready for rookie minicamp and then OTAs. It's something I've dreamt about for a long time."

Rudolph, who will take part in the team's rookie minicamp this weekend at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, did his due diligence before the draft. After being a victim of colleges not reaching out to him, he reached out to several NFL teams in the days leading up to the draft, including texting Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. And he quickly got a reply.

"I just kind of checked in with him just to make sure he knew how I felt," said Rudolph. "I feel like he always knew how I felt about the Steelers and the fit that it would be. It wasn't much. I just said, 'Hey, how are doing. Good luck on your end.'

"This was definitely one of the A-list fits and A-list teams where I could see me pour myself into it."

Rudolph fits the mold of the type of player the Steelers draft. High character, strong values and work ethic. And he embraces three things that have always been at the forefront for the Rooney family ... football, faith and family.

"I didn't go on many visits before the draft, but the places I did go I kind of got a feel for. Even the language that they use as soon as you get there," said Rudolph. "It's been night and day here. I think those points of emphasis that the Rooney family embraces definitely trickle down to the whole organization. You can see from the time you walk in the door, if you're talking to the equipment manager or if you're talking to Mr. (Art) Rooney himself. I think it's going to be a fun fit."

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