Rock Hill NFL star holds shopping spree for kids ahead of football camp
The boys weren’t even at the store’s checkout before they were pleading with Mason Rudolph to sign their footballs, still snug in the cardboard cases.
He chuckled nervously next to a store clerk and asked if he should at least buy the balls first before signing them.
The boys left the rest of the $100 shopping sprees to their mothers and Rudolph and shuffled over to an open space in the the baseball aisle to throw around their footballs.
Rudolph, a 23-year-old quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and former Northwestern High School star, took nine children on a shopping spree at Academy Sports in Rock Hill ahead of a youth football camp he is holding at Manchester Meadows Saturday.
The nine kids looked up to him as he signed their footballs and helped them pick out mouth pieces.
“Going to college so far away, I hadn’t really done this type of stuff in my hometown,” Rudolph said.
Rudolph said he was doing the shopping spree because he looks up to an older generation of Rock Hill football greats that have held camps and shopping sprees for kids.
“The respect we all have, my generation for the older generation, is tremendous,” he said.
He looks up to stars like Benjamin Watson, Cordarrelle Patterson and Stephon Gilmore — all former Rock Hill players who went on to play in the NFL, he said.
“They’ve all done a good job of staying connected to the community long after their college career is over, and I want to do the same thing,” he said. “This was the first chance to do it.”
Rudolph was a star quarterback for Northwestern for three years, before another four successful years in college at Oklahoma State. He led Northwestern to a 15-0 state title season in 2013, and left Oklahoma State as a key member of the most successful senior class in the school’s history.