USC football roundup: Jake Olson to bench press at USC Pro Day and more

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

Jake Olson is raising money for retinoblastoma at USC’s Pro Day, the Trojans are losing a key support staffer and more from the USC football roundup.

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Jake Olson is the gift that keeps on giving. Literally.

The Trojans blind longsnapper, who is set to graduate from USC in May, finished out his football career this past fall and now has one final sendoff: He will participate in the bench press at USC’s Pro Day on Wednesday.

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This isn’t just another “Jake Olson doesn’t let his blindness stop him from doing X” situations. He’s bench pressing as a fundraising endeavor. It’s called “Jake Olson’s Reps for Retinoblastoma.”

Donors can pledge a certain amount of money for every rep Olson does on the bench press to support a clinical trial for a new, and potentially game-changing, retinoblastoma treatment.

“I remember hearing about the development of this plaque around the time of my surgery and the reality is that this Episcleral device would have allowed me to see today,” Olson wrote on the page where fans can donate. “Even though it was too late for me, it doesn’t have to be too late for the children who are facing the same reality I did nine years ago.”

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Olson is aiming to do 20 reps on the bench press. Based on that estimate, as of Tuesday morning, $29,980 has been raised.

Eric Ziskin leaves

Just as it seemed USC was finally doing work to fill in their support staff this offseason, the Trojans suffered a big blow on the personnel side of things. Director of recruiting and player personnel Eric Ziskin is set to leave the program, according to Ryan Abraham of

Ziskin’s LinkedIn account seems to confirm that, with a bio describing him as “seeking a career transition into a digital marketing role.”

Fans may best remember Ziskin as the support staffer who would tweet a “Fight On!” emoji for every national letter of intent received by the Trojans on Signing Day.

USC already has a smaller support staff than most other elite college football programs. Obviously, the need to replace Ziskin quickly is great, but Clay Helton and company could use this opportunity to fill his shoes with more than one replacement. Bolstering numbers on the support staff would go a long way.

Coaches tweet train

Late last week, USC’s coaches and support staff put together quite the tweet train, aimed at upping the excitement for the coming campaign.

It was all started by Trey Johnson, USC’s assistant director of player personnel, then continued with Gavin Morris, USC’s director of player development, and eventually assistant coaches like Tim Drevno, Greg Burns, Graham Harrell and Mike Jinks, along with Sam Crutis, USC’s assistant director of football operations.

The whole exchange felt a bit like the latest trend of NBA, NHL or NFL official Twitter accounts engaging each other in coordinated fashion.

Whether scripted or spontaneous, it’s a sign of USC’s staff being a bit more engaged on social media, which is a good move given the social media recruiting climate.