USC long snapper Jake Olson has fulfilled his dream of playing in a college football game.
The 2016 winner of the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award is now officially a USC Trojans football letterman after snapping for the final extra point in the Trojans’ season opening victory over Western Michigan.
“I just loved being out there,” Olson said. “It was an awesome feeling, something that I’ll remember forever.
Olson is legally blind after losing sight in both eyes to the rare disease retinoblastoma. He lost his left eye to the disease at 10 months. The night before his final surgery in 2009 to take the sight in his right eye away, then USC head coach Pete Carroll invited Olson to meet the team.
“To take a situation that ugly, and then to fast-forward eight years and to have that same kid be able to snap on the football field with the team that really got him through that time, is just beautiful. It’s emotional. Incredible,” Olson said.
Carroll, the Seahawks head coach, was tipped off this might happen so he was watching on TV Saturday night when Olson entered the game.
“I was so excited to see it I couldn’t stop crying. It was thrilling,” Carroll told The Seattle Times. “That was an incredible moment. I’m so glad that coach (Clay) Helton figured out a way to create an opportunity for Jake to show what he could do. This is just an extraordinary young man.”
He was invited to join the Trojans squad after he enrolled at USC in the fall of 2015 and received an NCAA waiver to practice with the team. He snapped in the spring games, but it wasn’t until last Saturday that Olson saw the field in a regular season game.
In what is clearly the biggest win for the Maryland program this decade – and perhaps even longer. The Terrapins marched into Austin a nearly three-touchdown underdog to No. 23 Texas and marched away with a 51-41 victory.
It was the first victory for Maryland against a ranked opponent on the road in nine years.
Maryland led 27-7 at one point in the second half, then held off a Longhorns rally that included Texas touchdowns on a blocked field goal return, a kickoff return and interception return for a score.
Running back Ty Johnson was a beast for the Terrapins, rushing for 132 yards, returning a kickoff 60 yards and scoring one touchdown. Wide receiver D.J. Moore had a big afternoon as well with seven catches for 133 yards and a score.
Illinois used a late touchdown from Mike Epstein and a blocked field goal as time expired to rally past Ball State at home.
Defending National Champion Clemson rolled up 665 yards of total offense on its way to a comfortable victory over Kent State at Death Valley. New starting QB threw for 236 yards on only 22 attempts.
Penn State, the defending Big Ten Champion, saw its dynamic trio of QB Trace McSorley, RB Saquon Barkley and TE Mike Gesicki each account for two touchdowns in blanking Akron. Barkley, a Heisman Trophy candidate, accounted for 256 total yards on 18 touches.
Notre Dame running backs Josh Adams and Dexter Williams, a 2017 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award finalist, combined for 285 yards and three touchdowns as the Fighting Irish subdued Temple. Adams earned Uplifting Athletes Player of the Week honors for his stellar effort.
Nebraska was embroiled in a nip-and-tuck affair with underrated Arkansas State all the way before holding on for a seven-point victory over the Red Wolves. Husker RB Trey Bryant rushed for 192 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries.
Washington, Syracuse and Northwestern all won their openers in different fashion. Northwestern needed a pair of 1-yard TD plunges by QB Clayton Thorson to rally past Nevada. Syracuse put up big numbers offensively in rolling Central Connecticut State and defending Pac-12 Champion Washington subdued Rutgers by outscoring the Scarlet Knights 20-7 in the second half.
Georgia Tech dropped a heartbreaker in double OT to Tennessee Monday night. And Stony Brook came up with a strong effort against nationally ranked USF on the road in Tampa before a late flurry allowed the Bulls to edge the Seawolves.