A Blind USC Player Pulled Off The Most Exciting Play In College Football’s First Week
On Saturday, Jake Olson’s lifelong dream came true to a packed house in Los Angeles.
With the USC Trojans up by 17 points over the Western Michigan Broncos and just 3:13 left in the fourth quarter, few football fans realized that the most exciting play of, not just the game, but the entire first week of college football, was ahead. Following a timeout, USC long-snapper Jake Olson took to the field to send the ball from the line of scrimmage to the holder for an extra point attempt by the kicker. Despite being such a common play in a game whose outcome appeared decided, the crowd roared. Jake Olson’s dream was about to come true.
Olson has been blind since childhood, having lost both eyes to retinal cancer. His left eye was removed when he was 10 months old; the cancer returned when he was 12, and doctors were forced to remove his right eye, rendering him legally blind. However, his dream was to play college football — more specifically, college football for USC. In 2015, Olson was awarded a scholarship reserved for players with disabilities and began practicing with the team. With the time waning in the fourth quarter against WMU, Olson finally walked on to the field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
He was finally getting his shot, but with the pressure and scrutiny that comes with it for any college athlete.
The snap was straight and the kick was good.
Olson’s appearance required planning by Trojans head coach Clay Helton and Western Michigan’s play-caller, Tim Lester. Earlier in the week, USC coach Helton approached Lester to express his hope that Olson could participate in the game in light of the safety issues present for both sides. The two worked out an arrangement: USC wouldn’t rush its defense on the WMU’s first extra-point attempt, and when the time came for USC to put in Olson, Helton would notify the WMU bench, and the Broncos would pay the Trojans the same courtesy.
Just seconds after Olson’s snap, the play was over and the celebration began on both sides.
The on-field festivities, including raucous celebration from the stands, were short-lived only because there was more football to be played. However, after the clock expired and USC won, the attention turned back to Olson.
For his performance, Olson has been named the PAC-12’s Special Teams Player of the Week.