Logan Rudolph confirmed to a reporter recently that he doesn’t actually wear jorts very often.
The Northwestern senior had many people fooled; he wore cut-off jean shorts very convincingly in the viral video he and his older brother, Mason, cooked up last May. Rudolph announced his commitment to play college football at Clemson, but that fact was almost lost in the dry humor of the 15-second clip.
Standing bare chested in the woods behind his house, sporting some short shorts and toting an ax, Rudolph thanked his family, coaches and all the schools that recruited him as Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone played in the background. He announced his college decision, then returned to chopping down a nearby tree.
It was a perfect representation of Logan Rudolph’s personality.
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“Everybody seems to tweet it out, ‘officially committed!’ and I just wanted to do something funny, lighten the mood and make it less stressful,” he said last week.
Logan’s just fun to be around with. He’s always got a smile on his face, that’s what I love about him. He’s just easy, easy going.
Northwestern defensive coordinator James Martin
Former Northwestern assistant coach Keon Stowers had been spit-balling ideas for the big reveal with Rudolph during the week leading up to his commitment announcement, but he had no idea that the video was in the works.
“Next thing you know I’m looking on Twitter and he’s got the video up and it’s going viral,” said Stowers.
The clip took off like a cheap Fourth of July firecracker.
National media quickly posted it on their web sites and it flashed across TV screens on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
Rudolph couldn’t have seemed any more different than his older brother, the polished face of the Oklahoma State football program with a bulletproof public image. Rudolph took the video down a few days later “to cool out a little bit.” An image of a future Brian Bosworth or Rob Gronkowski 2.0 chasing quarterbacks with an ax had already formed in the public eye.
“He’s definitely conscious of what people are thinking about him and what his image is,” Stowers said. “It got out of hand with 5,000 retweets and got on ESPN, and as much as he wants to be that guy on defense, he’s not the one to want to be the center of attention.”
8 of Logan Rudolph’s 15 sacks last season came in two of the Trojans’ biggest wins, the 35-34 victory over rival South Pointe and the Upper State semifinal win over Nation Ford. Rudolph had four sacks in each game.
Logan and Mason Rudolph might seem like polar opposites, but they’re really not. The requirements of Mason’s position might be the greatest influence on the brothers’ differing outward behaviors.
“We’re definitely different people,” Logan said. “We both try to be respectful and do it the right way, but I like to have fun and so does he.”
From this specific episode, consider:
▪ It was Mason that created the idea for the video, which seems on the surface like something Logan would’ve have thought up.
▪ Embarrassed by the immense and immediate reaction, it was Logan that took the video off of Twitter, a move more in keeping with Mason’s public persona.
“Being around both of them together, even today, they’re the same,” said Northwestern defensive coordinator James Martin.
With four sons, he might be an expert on observing brothers.
‘He was a sponge’
Logan Rudolph posted 60 tackles, 15 sacks, 13 QB pressures and 10 tackles-for-loss in 2015. He also had four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Rudolph exploded onto the state’s high school football scene last season after moving from receiver to defensive end.
His elite body type, speed at the snap of the ball, aggressive hand use and third and fourth gears when pursuing ball-carriers or quarterbacks made him a natural for the position, according to first-year head coach David Pierce, who worked with Rudolph as the team’s defensive line coach last year.
Stowers, the former Northwestern Trojan and Kansas University defensive lineman, and Rudolph met at the YMCA almost every Sunday during the offseason to hone the teenager’s pass-rushing craft. Stowers - who lives in Kansas now with his wife and young son and works at his alma mater - would talk Rudolph through moves and different situations, often from the offensive lineman’s perspective. He called Rudolph “a sponge.”
“He wants to learn everything,” said Stowers. “He wants to try out everything, just know how they do it in the big leagues, how they do it here, how they do it here. That’s just his personality.”
He’s got the motor, he knows how to play. Now it’s time to fine tune some of those things, we call it building his arsenal of moves. That was one of the things we worked on a lot.
Keon Stowers on Logan Rudolph
Pierce wants Rudolph to add to his cache of escape moves so that he can shed blockers. Mallard Creek’s behemoth offensive line underscored that during a scrimmage last Thursday; the Mavericks double-teamed Rudolph on nearly every first-team snap.
“There’s really nothing more he can do to become more physically dominant, other than putting on a little bit more weight,” said Stowers. “So I definitely wanted to bring that mental part in there.”
In many ways, moving to defense unshackled Rudolph.
“Kyle Richardson’s offense was so strategic so you can’t really do your own thing until you’ve got the ball in your hands,” said Stowers. “He was definitely born to be a defensive end. It’s in his genes, he doesn’t need to be anywhere else, unless it’s standing up playing outside linebacker.”
The biggest goofball
More onus will fall on Rudolph after Northwestern graduated a trio of productive defensive linemen. But all interviewed for this story agreed that speedy and underrated defensive end Alan Alford should eventually draw some of the blocking focus away from Rudolph.
Alan Alford’s junior year highlights; note his quickness:
Still, Rudolph knows that as a Clemson commit all eyes will be on him.
“He’s accepted the challenge,” said Martin. “He knows there’s high expectations for him. But we don’t go into it as ‘Logan, it’s all up to you.’ It’s a team. But he has the ability to do a lot of great things, just like he did last year.”
Stowers expects a huge senior season from his protege for one key reason: Rudolph focused solely on playing defensive end for the first time in his football life.
“He’s spent the whole winter, a whole summer focused on nothing but defensive end,” said Stowers. “I see him having an even better defensive season this year, barring injury.”
A lot more enjoyable than previous seasons as a receiver. I definitely think I found my forte. Definitely excited about this coming season.
Logan Rudolph relished his switch to the defensive side of the football
Clemson should help Rudolph become an NFL prospect one day. There is plenty of pass rushing nuance and technique to soak up before then, but Stowers and Pierce agreed nothing needs to change with Rudolph’s personality.
“He is the biggest goofball,” Stowers said, laughing. “It’s so cool because he knows when it’s play time and when it’s not. That’s what you’ve got to do. When you’re in college you’re still goofing off, but you know when to shut it off, when it’s time to go and when to flip that switch and be in game mode. He has that innate ability now.
“But he is an all-around goofball. That’s my boy.”
“He always seems to have a smile or grin,” said Pierce. “When the whistle blows and the band strikes up he becomes Darth Vader.”
After the Clemson commitment video, Rudolph stopped tweeting out his offers so his teammates wouldn’t be offended or slighted. He wants to be the center of attention... on the field. That’s where the Rudolphs have always made viral videos.
Like his older brother, Logan Rudolph plans to graduate from high school in December and enroll at Clemson in January. He had no issues qualifying academically.
“I feel like it’ll give me an edge so I can get in there and learn as much as I can,” he said.
Rudolph will play outside linebacker for the Tigers, who hired his former head coach, Kyle Richardson, during the offseason. Rudolph said that had no impact on his decision to pick Clemson over 39 other scholarship offers.
“It wasn’t based on him at all, but it’ll be great to have a friendly face in the door, someone who can help me out from the first day. But I just liked everything about it.”