MISSOULA – The Montana Grizzlies have a handful of returning stars this fall, but a few new ones will surely emerge over the next few months.
One player who has only briefly seen the field in his first three years specifically has Griz teammates, coaches, and fans drooling over his potential.
Dante Olson has been labeled a potential star ever since he became Montana’s scout team defender of the year as a redshirt in 2015. With veteran linebackers in front of him the past two seasons, Olson made 67 tackles while showing flashes of his play-making ability. He has been named Montana’s special teams player of the year each of the past two seasons.
The Medford, Oregon native and 4.0 student is trying to ignore and dismiss the hype he’s suddenly creating.
“I don’t really know what to say about expectations, because expectations, you haven’t done anything about them yet, you know?” said Olson. “I just overall really like what’s going on with the defense right now. So I’m really excited to maybe get a chance, but we’ll see.”
“That’s the evolution of college football,” said head coach Bobby Hauck. “There are a lot of players that haven’t played a lot that you need to play. We’re kind of counting on Dante being one of those guys that makes the next step.”
Olson’s emergence has become even more important this fall. The Grizzlies are still holding out Big Sky Conference preseason defensive MVP Josh Buss because of an undisclosed injury, so UM has no returning starters at linebacker.
The Griz will face a big challenge versus No. 13 Northern Iowa at 7 p.m. Saturday in Washington-Grizzly Stadium.