STILLWATER, Okla. (OSU ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT) – The Oklahoma State Cowboys mourn the passing of record-setting quarterback Rusty Hilger.
Hilger passed away Tuesday at the age of 57.
He was a three-year letterman for OSU in 1981, 1983, and 1984.
After Stillwater, he went on to play in the National Football League with the Los Angels Raiders, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, and Seattle Seahawks.
He was not heavily recruited out of Southeast HS in Oklahoma City and came to Stillwater with very little fanfare. Coach Pat Jones said the only thing he really knew about Hilger was that he had a strong arm and so Hilger was given the 30th and final scholarship in his signing class.
That decision paid off, as Jones said Hilger was a key component in setting up OSU’s run of success in the 1980s.
In 1983, Hilger earned MVP honors at the Bluebonnet Bowl, which was played in front of a crowd of 50,090 in the Houston Astrodome. He threw two touchdowns in the first half and helped the Cowboys get out to a 24-6 halftime lead over Baylor before being knocked out of the game to injury. OSU went on to secure a 24-14 win.
The following year, Hilger quarterbacked the Cowboys to the first 10-win season in program history. The Pokes lost only twice that season – both to opponents ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll – and picked up one of the most memorable wins in school history when they claimed a 21-14 victory over No. 7 South Carolina in the Gator Bowl.
To this day, Hilger’s name still appears prominently in the Oklahoma State record book. He set single-season school records for pass completions, pass attempts and passing yards in 1984 and remains in the top 10 in school history for career pass attempts, career pass completions, career passing yards and career completion percentage, among other categories.
Hilger further cemented his status as a professional prospect on the post-season all-star circuit and legendary Raiders owner Al Davis selected him in the sixth round of the 1985 NFL Draft.