This is the coolest thing that happened today in college football, even though the play itself is the definition of routine.
Jake Olson is a long-snapper, and he’s also been blind since age 12 when he lost his second eye to retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer. That hasn’t stopped him from walking on at USC at the specialist position, perhaps the one place on the field that could reasonably be handled, and handled safely, by a blind player.
And today, he got in a game for an extra point opportunity:
This is anything but a regular PAT.
Jake Olson, blind since age 12, just snapped for the first time in a live game. https://t.co/amyHcFoVue
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) September 3, 2017
A perfect snap.
Olson was honest about his goals in the spring of 2016:
Olson, whose journey has been well-documented, knew earlier in the week he was going to get the opportunity (to snap in a spring game), but fought back tears as he was guided onto the field. It was a nice moment in a meaningless game and later he tweeted it represented another step towards his goal. His goal, though, isn’t just to appear in an actual game. It’s to become the Trojans’ regular long-snapper on field goals and extra points.
“I just have to continue to take steps forward until everyone is on board and some of those doubts that I know some coaches have are gone,” he said. “I’m waiting to have more opportunities to show the coaches that I have the talent to go out there and snap.”
Their chief concern, Olson said, is his safety, but he’s quick to counter as to why it shouldn’t be.
“Of course you’ll get bumped and stuff,” Olson said, “but I’m at significantly less of a risk than putting a tight end or a receiver over the middle.”
And now, he got into a game, an accomplishment greater than many sighted players ever achieve.
The stadium and his teammates going wild for him made it all the better.
VERY IMPORTANT UPDATE:
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) September 3, 2017