Pittsburgh Steelers second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph did something on Sunday that no one from his hometown had ever done before.
After starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered an elbow injury late in the second quarter of the Steelers’ Week Two contest with the Seattle Seahawks, Rudolph saw his first NFL regular season action and became the first and only quarterback from a high school in York County, Lancaster County or Chester County to play a snap in the NFL.
The Northwestern High School alumnus, Oklahoma State Cowboy and third-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft finished the game completing 12-of-19 passes for 112 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, which was enough to earn a 92.4 passer rating.
By the game’s end, his name was trending on Twitter; and by Monday afternoon, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Roethlisberger was out for the season — sparking discourse about whether or not this was the beginning of Rudolph’s era in Pittsburgh.
That said, how he played and what he might do isn’t what made Rudolph’s debut so special. At least, that’s not what made history.
Starting with Daddy Potts, who played professionally for one year in 1926, there have been 45 football players from the Tri-County area who’ve played in the NFL.
Among them: there have been six linebackers; 14 defensive backs; six defensive linemen (including former No. 1 overall pick in 2014 draft, Jadeveon Clowney); four wide receivers; two tight ends; four running backs; one offensive lineman; one fullback; three punters; three other multi-position players …
And, with Rudolph, one quarterback.
Now, the only position that hasn’t been played by a Tri-County native in the NFL is place kicker. But that void might soon be filled.
South Pointe alumnus B.T. Potter, who is now the starting kicker for Clemson, has had an impressive career thus far, succeeding on the college sport’s most public stage: He’s 4-for-6 on field goals this year, his long being from 51 yards out, and he’s a perfect 17-for-17 on extra points.
Rudolph is one of seven players from Northwestern to play in the NFL. Rock Hill High School has also sent seven of its alumni to the NFL. South Pointe has sent four.
Rudolph, who graduated from Northwestern in 2014, is one of eight active players in the NFL from the Tri-County area.
According to MaxPreps, in his senior year alone at Northwestern, Rudolph went 350-for-482 passing for over 4,300 yards and 64 touchdown passes with only eight interceptions. That year, he led his team to an undefeated season, 15-0.
By his signing day, Rudolph was the No. 1 quarterback recruit out of South Carolina.
Rudolph will likely see his first NFL start this upcoming weekend against the San Francisco 49ers.
John Marks, with his story on Daddy Potts, contributed reporting.