One of the most heartwarming stories you’ll ever see continues to give, even after the first week of the 2017 college football season has been put to bed.
In 2009, the Pete Carroll-led USC Trojans football team essentially adopted Jake Olson, a teenage fan at the time suffering from cancer of the retina in his right eye (he lost his left eye when he was less than one year old). It was subsequently determined that Olson would need the right eye removed; on his final day of sight prior to the surgery that would leave him blind for the rest of his life, he chose to attend a Trojans football practice.
Fast-forward a few years, and Olson walked on to the USC football team as a long-snapper in 2015. He took his first live-drill reps with the Trojans in September of that year, then snapped for the team in the 2016 spring game. While he didn’t see any real-game action either year, Saturday, at the end of USC’s closer-than-expected win over Western Michigan, Olson finally got to take his place on the field in an actual game with the rest of his special teams teammates as the long-snapper on an extra point — thanks in large part to a very classy assist from WMU head coach Tim Lester.
Watching from afar was Carroll, now the head coach of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Following practice Monday, Carroll spent a significant period of time discussing just what it meant for Olson to play in a college football game, saying in part that he “couldn’t stop crying” because of what he had witnessed.
From the team’s official website:
That was an incredible moment. I’m so glad that (USC) Coach (Clay) Helton figured out a way to create the opportunity for Jake to show what he could do. This is just an extraordinary young man. Jake has done stuff throughout his life. From the time he was 10 years old, he has been doing remarkable things—he wrote his first book at 10—and onward. For a guy to out there and play in a college football game, snap a ball, they kick the extra point and make it, that’s just something, that’s just something about Jake. Jake’s a huge story. He’s one for all of us about courage and character and grit and vision and special qualities that few people would be able to hold onto. …
“He’s going to be a big factor. We’re all going to see him do a lot of stuff in this world. There’s nothing holding Jake back. I was so excited to see it, I couldn’t stop crying. It was thrilling. It was good to see a Trojan win too, but it was really something. …“I would have imagined that Jake would have been dreaming about playing for the Trojans, but the fact that it could ever come true, I would have not have thought that was possible. But then again, it’s Jake, so anything’s possible
“I would have imagined that Jake would have been dreaming about playing for the Trojans, but the fact that it could ever come true, I would have not have thought that was possible. But then again, it’s Jake, so anything’s possible.
On his Instagram account over the weekend, Olson gave a heartfelt thank you to Carroll for taking him in and embracing him as a 12-year-old.
“To Coach Carroll, none of this would have been possible without you,” a portion of Olson’s post read. “If you hadn’t made me a member of the Trojan Family when I was 12, I don’t know where my life would be. You are a special person, and I will be forever thankful for your generosity.”
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to achieve a lifelong dream and snap in a game for the USC Trojans. I cannot possibly thank all the people who have played a role in making this happen, but there are some people who I feel deserve special shout-outs. Mom, Dad, and Emma, none of this would have been possible without you guys. You have always been there for me, and there is simply no way I would be where I am today without your love and support. I am beyond blessed to have such an amazing family. Coaches Helton and Baxter, thank you for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to show what I can do. You push me every day on the field, and I am lucky to have you as coaches and mentors. To all my teammates, especially my special teams unit, thank you for being there for me and allowing me to feel so comfortable as a member of the team. To my friends, thank you for always supporting me and helping me get where I need to go. To Coach Carroll, none of this would have been possible without you. If you hadn’t made me a member of the Trojan Family when I was 12, I don’t know where my life would be. You are a special person, and I will be forever thankful for your generosity. Yesterday was a big day in my life, and I am hoping it’s the first of many, so stay tuned. Thank you everyone. It means the world to me knowing that I can and have inspired many through this experience. #fighton
At least this week there won’t be any pre-kickoff drama.
Because of an injury suffered to his right knee in the Week 8 win over Navy, Ed Oliver has missed the past three games as he works through the issue. With a key AAC West matchup with Tulane looming Thursday night, head coach Major Applewhite confirmed Tuesday that the standout defensive lineman will be sidelined for the Green Wave game because of the same injury issue.
Double-teamed most times — and even triple-teamed on occasion — Oliver was held sack-less through the first six games of this season. The last two in which he played, however, he was credited with three — two against East Carolina, one against Navy.
In March of this year, Oliver announced that the 2018 season would be his last at the collegiate level as he will leave the Cougars early and make himself available for the 2019 NFL draft, where he is widely projected to be a Top Five selection at worst.
After a consensus Freshman All-American season that saw him land on numerous first-team All-American squads, Oliver was a consensus All-American in a 2017 season that saw him become the first underclassman to win the Outland Trophy in the 70-year history of the award.
In his first two seasons with the Cougars, the 6-3, 290-pound Oliver had totaled 39.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. In addition to the three sacks, Oliver has 13.5 tackles for loss this season; his 1.9 tackles for loss were tied for third nationally prior to his injury.
At 4-2, Houston is currently tied for first place in the AAC West with SMU and Tulane. Houston has already lost to SMU this season, while they’ll face Memphis in the regular-season finale. Whether Oliver will (or should) play in that game, or any other for the Cougars for that matter, remains to be seen.
Brian Lewerke or Rocky Lombardi? Stay tuned to find out.
Lewerke, the starter for most of the last two seasons, has been working his way through an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder. His streak of 20 straight starts was snapped last month because of the injury as Lombardi took over in the win over Purdue, although Lewerke returned to start the last two games.
In that last game, a loss to Ohio State, Lewerke struggled mightily (again), leading to questions as to just who will get the starting nod this Saturday against Nebraska. Posed that very question, Mark Dantonio declined to give any indication as to which direction he may be leaning.
“We make decisions and as we go forward those decisions become complicated at times, but we do the very best we can and everybody’s involved,” the head coach said by way of mlive.com. “I don’t really think it’s in this team’s best interest to air those decisions prior to football games. I think that’s something that needs to be kept in-house for everybody’s best benefits.”
Prior to suffering the injury in the Oct. 13 win over Penn State, Lewerke was completing 60 percent of his passes. Since then, he’s completing just 35 percent.
In his lone start, Lombardi went 26-of-46 for 318 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Duke’s season of injuries continues unabated, with the Blue Devils’ defensive line the latest to suffer a hit.
Tuesday, Duke announced that Ben Frye has been diagnosed with a torn ACL and will, obviously, miss the remainder of the 2018 season. Per the school, the defensive tackle sustained the injury during practice last Wednesday.
The redshirt freshman has been credited with 3.5 tackles for loss and one sack in six games this season. Frye was a three-star member of Duke’s 2017 recruiting class.
This season alone, the Blue Devils have seen a dozen players with starting experience miss at least one game because of injury. Included in that group are defensive tackle Edgar Cerenord and defensive end Drew Jordan.
The third edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were unveiled Tuesday night and the top ten remained exactly the same from a week ago. Such a holding pattern was expected after the entire top 10 won a week ago.
It is the first time in the history of the CFP rankings the top 10 has remained the same from one week to the next.
Most notably, Oklahoma did not fall from No. 6 after being pushed to the limit by 5-4 Oklahoma State at home.
Kentucky was the highest-ranked team to lose, a 24-7 loss at Tennessee, and the Cats fell from No. 11 to No. 17.
UCF moved up to No. 11 and Syracuse to No. 12 ahead of their showdown with the Irish. UCF’s No. 11 ranking is the highest a Group of 5 team has ever appeared in 28 sets of CFP rankings.
Mississippi State remained the highest-ranked 4-loss team, edging out Northwestern at No. 21. Utah State, Cincinnati and Boise State joined the rankings in the final three spots.
3. Notre Dame
8. Washington State
9. West Virginia
10. Ohio State
14. Penn State
16. Iowa State
20. Boston College
21. Mississippi State
23. Utah State
25. Boise State