Blind longsnapper and long time Trojan fan Jake Olson has been cleared to play USC football, according to his Twitter account.
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Olson tweeted the news Monday night after months of speculation about whether or not the NCAA would clear the way for him to join the Trojans.
Olson, who befriended Pete Carroll and the USC football team in 2009, was born with a rare form of cancer which took his left eye when he was 10 months old. Shortly after becoming a sort of mascot for the Trojans at the age of 12, his other eye had to be removed, leaving him without his sight.
Blinded, Olson was not diminished. He continued to play golf and then decided he wanted to take a stab at playing football at Orange Lutheran. Longsnapper was determined to be the most realistic spot for a blind player to occupy and before long, Olson had perfected his snapping skills to the point that he earned the starting job.
With the help of a teammate, he can be led onto the field, put into position and snap the ball without his lack of sight impeding his job.
Now a USC freshman, Olson’s dream of playing for the Trojans seemed within reach, as head coach Steve Sarkisian expressed a desire to not just let him walk on to the team, but to get him onto the field.
“Someday, he’s going to snap in a game for us,” Sarkisian told the LA Times. “When? I don’t know. But it will happen. When that day comes, it will be awesome.”
The hurdle which prevented Olson from joining up as a walk-on before now was the NCAA. Olson has a scholarship through the Swim With Mike program. Under NCAA rules, that scholarship would have to be counted against USC’s allotment. Without any room for another counter, the Trojans could not add Olson to the roster.
Thus the wait for clearance from the NCAA to allow him to walk-on without his non-football scholarship getting in the way.
With that hurdle cleared, Olson has done what seemed impossible. He will suit up in the cardinal and gold and listen to a crowd he cannot see roar for him on Saturdays at the Coliseum.
And it will indeed be awesome.
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