(Editor’s note: Story by Griz Communications)
MISSOULA – Montana junior linebacker Dante Olson made the most of his first start as a Grizzly, making big play after big play against the thirteenth-ranked Northern Iowa Panthers.
His impact hasn’t gone unnoticed either, with the Medford, Oregon native collecting a pair of weekly honors as the ROOT Sports Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week and the College Sports Madness Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week. He was also an honorable mention for the STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week.
Olson logged a game-high 13 tackles on Saturday and tallied a statistic in six of the nine defensive categories by adding a sack, an interception, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. He was also right there to recover one of UNI’s three fumbles but was unable to come up with the ball.
Olson’s 13 tackles were tied for the most in Big Sky play in week one and were the most of any Big Sky player against a Division-I opponent. Nationally, his 13 tackles tie him for the tenth-most in all of FCS football on week one and were the most tallied against a top-25 opponent.
In his first game as a starter, his 13 tackles are a new career-high, and his interception (which he returned 26 yards) was the first of his career. The sack was the third of his career.
Despite not starting until his junior season, Olson has already had a decorated career at UM. As a sophomore, he was named second-team All-Big Sky for special teams and won the Hauck Family Special Teams Player of the Year award for a second-straight season. As a true freshman, he was named the Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year as well.
These are the first Player of the Week honors of his career.
Olson is also a decorated student as a two-time Academic All-Big Sky selection with a 4.0 GPA. In his time away from the football field, he also mentors a class of underprivileged kids in Northern California.
ROOT Sports Big Sky Players of the Week
Offense: Ulonzo Gilliam – UC Davis (RB – 23 Att. – 132 yards – 2 TD – 22 long – 5.7 Avg.)
Defense: Dante Olson – Montana (13 Tackles – 1 Sack – 1 TFL – 1 INT – 1 PBU – 1 QBH)
Special Teams: Tristan Bailey – Montana State (4/4 FG – 50 Long)
MORE ON OLSON
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 4.0 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