(Editor’s note: story by Montana Sports Information)
MISSOULA – In the Chinese zodiac, the number five is associated with people who are hard-working and courageous, among other noble characteristics.
Five then seems like a fitting number for Dante Olson.
On Friday (the fifth day of the week), the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) named Olson to its First-Team All-America squad. It is the record-breaking linebacker’s fifth All-America honor following his historic junior season, and he now becomes just the fifth Grizzly ever to earn five All-America distinctions in a single year, joining other five-timers Dave Dickenson (1995), Thatcher Szalay (2001), Trey Young (2002), and Trumaine Johnson (2010 & 2011).
It’s worth noting that only one other player on that list (Johnson) was a five-time All-American as a junior, and he’s gone on to be one of the highest paid cornerbacks in the NFL.
Olson is one of only four players from the Big Sky Conference to earn a place on the two-team AFCA FCS All-America squad and is the only defensive player in the league to make the cut.
Olson has now been named a First-Team All-American by every major FCS organization this year and has collected a total of nine major post-season honors. He will find out if he is to receive the biggest post-season honor on Jan. 4, when he travels to Frisco, Texas, for the STATS FCS Awards Banquet as a top-three finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award for the Defensive Player of the Year.
His tally of 151 total tackles on the season shattered the Montana school record of 130, and was 26-shy of breaking the Big Sky record of 176, despite not advancing to the playoffs.
Olson posted double-digit tackles in nine of Montana’s 11 games this season, including a single-game high of 24 at Cal Poly, 19 against Portland State, 18 against Montana State, and 16 against Drake. His 24 against the Mustangs are the second-most in UM school history behind Tim Hauck’s 25 tackles posted against Fresno State in 1989.
In addition to his 151 tackles, Olson also tallied 11 tackles for loss, six sacks, three forced fumbles, two interceptions, five quarterback hurries and three pass breakups as a First-Team All-Big Sky selection. For his efforts, he was also named the Grizzlies’ Steve Carlson Team MVP and the team’s Defensive MVP at the post-season awards banquet in November.
The AFCA has selected an All-America team since 1945 and currently selects teams in all five of its divisions. What makes these teams so special is that they are the only ones chosen exclusively by the men who know the players the best — the coaches themselves.
Montana now has the second-most all-time AFCA All-Americans of any current FCS school with 29 selections by 28 players. Delaware tops the list with 32 selections by 29 players, followed by Montana then North Dakota State (29/26), Eastern Kentucky (27/25), Eastern Washington (27/23), Weber State (22/21), Northern Iowa (22/19), Grambling State (21/20), Lehigh (20/20), Furman (20/19), South Carolina State (20/18), New Hampshire (20/17), James Madison (19/19), North Dakota (19/17), Portland State (18/17), Eastern Illinois (18/16), Youngstown State (18/16), South Dakota State (18/14), Western Illinois (17/16), Northern Colorado (17/14), Montana State (16/16), Towson (16/16), Cal Poly (16/14), McNeese (16/14), UC Davis (16/14), Abilene Christian (15/14), Stephen F. Austin (15/14) and Tennessee State (15/14).
Olson’s 2018 Post-Season Honors:
* STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award Finalist
* AFCA First-Team All-American
* HERO Sports First-Team All-American
* STATS FCS First-Team All-American
* Walter Camp Foundation All-American
* Associated Press First-Team All-American
* First-Team All-Big Sky
* Steve Carlson Team MVP
* Grizzly Defensive MVP
2018 AFCA Football Championship Subdivision Coaches’ All-America Team – First Team
Pos Name Ht. Wt. Cl. School Hometown (High School)
WR *Kelvin McKnight 5-8 186 Sr. Samford Bradenton, Fla. (Manatee)
WR *Keelan Doss 6-3 209 Sr. UC Davis Alameda, Calif. (Alameda)
TE Donald Parham 6-8 240 Sr. Stetson Lakeland, Fla. (Lake Gibson)
OL ^Daniel Cooney 6-8 315 R-Sr. San Diego Western Springs, Ill. (Fenwick)
OL B.J. Autry 6-5 340 R-Sr. Jacksonville State Eight Mile, Ala. (Blount)
OL Matt Pyke 6-2 302 R-Sr. East Tennessee State Clinton, Tenn. (Anderson County)
OL Tanner Volson 6-4 306 Sr. North Dakota State Balfour, N.D. (Drake-Anamoose)
OL CJ Collins 6-3 255 Gr. Kennesaw State Woodstock, Ga. (Sequoyah)
QB *Devlin Hodges 6-1 210 Sr. Samford Kimberly, Ala. (Mortimer-Jordan)
RB James Holland Jr. 5-9 210 Sr. Colgate Royal Palm Beach, Fla. (The Kings Academy)
RB AJ Hines 5-11 225 Jr. Duquesne Wilson, N.C. (Fike)
DL Derick Roberson 6-4 250 R-Sr. Sam Houston State San Antonio, Texas (Brennan)
DL Nick Wheeler 6-2 255 Jr. Colgate St. Louis, Mo. (Christian Brothers College)
DL Isaiah Mack 6-3 305 Sr. Chattanooga Tunnel Hill, Ga. (Northwest Whitfield)
DL Greg Menard 6-2 240 R-Sr. North Dakota State Lakeville, Minn. (North)
LB BJ Blunt 6-1 220 Sr. McNeese New Orleans, La. (McDonough)
LB T.J. Holl 6-1 230 Sr. Colgate Cranberry Township, Pa. (Seneca Valley)
LB Dante Olson 6-3 237 R-Jr. Montana Medford, Ore. (Cascade Christian)
DB Marlon Bridges 6-0 200 R-Jr. Jacksonville State Lanett, Ala. (Lanett)
DB Jimmy Moreland 5-11 175 R-Sr. James Madison Royal Palm Beach, Fla. (Royal Palm Beach)
DB Isiah Swann 6-0 190 Jr. Dartmouth Queen Creek, Ariz. (Chandler)
DB Jordan Brown 6-1 200 Sr. South Dakota State Scottsdale, Ariz. (Paradise Valley)
P Chris Faddoul 6-1 182 So.Florida A&M Wesley Chapel, Fla. (Wiregrass Ranch)
PK Roldan Alcobendas 6-0 180 Sr. Eastern Washington Camas, Wash. (Camas)
AP Shane Simpson 5-9 200 R-Jr. Towson Easton, Pa. (Easton)
*-2017 AFCA All-American ^2016-17 AFCA All-American
MORE ON OLSON
2018: Finalist for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award … STATS FCS First-Team All-American … Walter Camp Foundation All-American … Associated Press First-Team All-American … HERO Sports First-Team All-American … Led Division I football in total tackles (FBS and FCS) … Selected as First-Team All-Big Sky Conference by the league’s coaches … Awarded Montana Football’s Steve Carlson MVP Award … Awarded Montana Football’s Defensive MVP Award … Named ROOT Sports Big Sky Defensive Player of the week on 9/3 … Named College Sports Madness Big Sky Defensive Player of the week on 9/3 … Repeated as ROOT Sports Big Sky Player of the Week on 9/8 … Was named STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week on 9/8 as well …. Also repeated as College Sports Madness Big Sky Player of the Week on 9/8 … Named ROOT Sports Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week for a third time on 10/1 after posting 24 tackles against Cal Poly … Against UNI (9/1), Olson led the Grizzly defense with 13 total tackles … Also recorded an interception which he returned 26 yards, a sack for a loss of 9 yards, one PBU and one QB hurry … Was named the ROOT Sports Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week after the UNI game … Against Drake (9/8), Olson recorded 16 tackles, 2 sacks (career high), 3.5 TFL’s (career high), one forced fumble and one PBU … Olson recorded 11 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, half a sack, one QB hit, and an interception that he returned 25 yards in a well-rounded performance vs. Western Illinois (9/15) … Against Sacramento State (9/22) recorded 15 tackles, 1 sack, 1 PBU, and a QB hit … Against Cal Poly (9/29) Olson earned Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors for the 3rd time in 5 weeks putting up 24 total tackles (career high and 2nd best single-game tackling performance in UM history) … Against Portland State (10/6) put up 19 tackles, half a sack, 2 TFL’s and 2 forced fumbles … Olson put up 8 tackles and one half of a TFL in a matchup against North Dakota (10/13) … Olson added to his impressive season totals with a 13 tackle and one sack performance vs. #6 UC Davis (10/27) … Leading his team in tackling, Olson contributed to his team’s road victory over Idaho (11/10) with 10 tackles and a QB hit on the day … Olson completed his break-out season with an 18 tackle performance against rival Montana State (11/17)
2017: Second Team All-Big Sky on Special Teams… Academic All-Big Sky … Hauck Family Special Teams Player of the Year … Recorded 38 tackles, 16 of them solo … Had 2 TFLs and one sack against Idaho State for a loss of seven yards … Blocked a kick against Northern Colorado … Logged QB hurries against Savannah State and Eastern Washington … Played in all 11 games for UM … Once again awarded the William (Robi) Robertson Memorial Athletic Scholarship at the annual Lindsay Awards Banquet
2016: Academic All-Big Sky… Hauck Family Special Teams Player of the Year … Olson played in 11 games as a redshirt freshman at linebacker … Recorded 29 tackles, seven of them solo … Had two tackles for loss for six yards, also recorded a sack … Had back to back games with seven tackles against Miss. Valley State and Sacramento State … Recorded both tackles for loss and also his only sack in the Miss. Valley State game… Awarded the William (Robi) Robertson Memorial Athletic Scholarship at the annual Lindsay Awards Banquet.
2015: Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year … Was a redshirt freshman
HIGH SCHOOL: Olson was a four-year letterman in football at Cascade Christian HS, where his team won four conference championships (10-3 in 2011; 13-1 in 2012; 12-2 in 2013, and 8-3 in 2014) in a row… Three-year team captain and defensive player of the year…. Also led his team in tackles for three seasons…Voted defensive MVP of his conference and the state two times… His senior year he had 135 tackles, 5 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles; rushed for 583 yards and 8 TDs… named to the state’s All-Star Football Game… A three-time all-state selection at linebacker and tight end (as a senior) … His prep coach was Jon Gettman…. Also lettered in basketball and tennis.
PERSONAL: Olson carries a 3.87 GPA …. A Management major … His parents are Linda and Jeff Olson of Medford … His dad Jeff was the former head football coach at Southern Oregon University … Serves as a pen-pal mentor to a class of underprivileged kids in Northern California