(Editor’s note: University of Montana media release)
MISSOULA – Montana linebacker Dante Olson was named an Associated Press First-team All-American on Tuesday following a record-breaking season where he posted a national-best 151 tackles, shattering the UM school record.
Olson, one of three finalists for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award for the national Defensive Player of the Year, is the only representative from the Big Sky Conference on the defensive first team after shattering the school record for single-season tackles.
“It’s an honor and a blessing to become an All-American,” said Olson. “It would never have been possible without my coaches and teammates, however.”
This is the first All-America selection for the prolific junior tackler this season after he broke Kendrick Van Ackeren’s 2015 school record of 130 tackles. The last UM player to earn a first-team nod from the AP was defensive end Tyrone Holmes, who led the nation in sacks in 2015 with 18. Wide receiver Jamaal Jones was also named to the AP’s second-team All-America list that season. Olson is now the 93rd AP All-American in program history.
The Medford, Oregon, native earned first-team Big Sky honors this season, and won UM’s Steve Carlson team MVP award in addition to defensive MVP honors at the Grizzlies’ post-season awards banquet in November.
His tally of 151 total tackles on the season was 26-shy of breaking the Big Sky record of 176, set by Eastern Washington linebacker JC Sherritt in the Eagles’ 2010 national championship run.
However, Sherritt and the Eagles played in four playoff games that season, where the Buchanan Award winner tallied an extra 51 tackles. Olson posted 151 regular season tackles, while Sherritt posted just 125 in the 2010 regular season.
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 in his breakout season.
Olson was named the STATS FCS national Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 8 and was named the ROOT Sports Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week three times as well.
In January he will travel to Frisco, Texas, for the STATS FCS national awards banquet ahead of the national championship game, where he will learn if he has become Montana’s third Buchanan Award winner in program history.
The 2018 Associated Press All-America team:
Quarterback — Easton Stick, senior, North Dakota State
Running backs — Joe Protheroe, senior, Cal Poly; Ryan Fulse, senior, Wagner
Linemen — Tanner Volson, senior, North Dakota State; Matt Pyke, senior, East Tennessee State; Micah Shaw, senior, North Carolina A&T; B.J. Autry, senior, Jacksonville State; Garrett Bowery, senior, Lamar
Tight end — Donald Parham, senior, Stetson
Wide receivers — Josh Pearson, junior, Jacksonville State; Michael Bandy, junior, San Diego
All-purpose player — Shane Simpson, junior, Towson
Kicker — Roldan Alcobendas, senior, Eastern Washington
Linemen — Isaiah Mack, senior, Chattanooga; Derick Roberson, senior, Sam Houston State; Ahmad Gooden, senior, Samford; Darryl Johnson, junior, North Carolina A&T
Linebackers — Zach Hall, junior, Southeast Missouri State; Dante Olson, junior, Montana; B.J. Blunt, senior, McNeese State
Backs — Isaiah Swann, junior, Dartmouth; Robbie Grimsley, senior, North Dakota State; Jimmy Moreland, senior, James Madison; Will Warner, junior, Drake
Punter — Chris Faddoul, sophomore, Florida A&M
Quarterback — Devlin Hodges, senior, Samford
Running backs — A.J. Hines, junior, Duquesne; Marquis Terry, senior, Southeast Missouri State
Linemen — Iosua Operta, senior, Weber State; Spencer Blackburn, senior, Eastern Washington; Drew Forbes, senior, Southeast Missouri State; C.J. Collins, senior, Kennesaw State; Dan Cooney, senior, San Diego
Tight end — Matthew Gonzalez, junior, Robert Morris
Wide receivers — Kelvin McKnight, senior, Samford; Keelan Doss, senior, UC Davis
All-purpose player — D’Angelo Amos, sophomore, James Madison
Kicker — Grayson Atkins, sophomore, Furman
Linemen — Khalen Saunders, senior, Western Illinois; Greg Menard, senior, North Dakota State; Jay-Tee Tiuli, senior, Eastern Washington; Nick Wheeler, junior, Colgate
Linebackers — Jabril Cox, sophomore, North Dakota State; Sterling Sheffield, senior, Maine; Adrian Hope, freshman, Furman
Backs — James Allen, senior, Charleston Southern; Tyree Robinson, sophomore, East Tennessee State; Nassir Adderly, senior, Delaware; Marlon Bridges, senior, Jacksonville State
Punter — Alex Pechin, senior, Bucknell
Quarterback — Chandler Burks, senior, Kennesaw State
Running backs — James Holland, senior, Colgate; James Robinson, junior, Illinois State.
Linemen — Matt Kaskey, senior, Dartmouth; Justus Basinger, junior, Wofford; C.J. Toogood, senior, Elon; Zack Johnson, junior, North Dakota State; Tiano Pupungatoa, senior, South Dakota State.
Tight end — Owen Cosenke, sophomore, Western Carolina
Wide receivers — Reggie White Jr., senior, Monmouth; Jazz Ferguson, junior, Northwestern State
All-purpose player — Kentel Williams, junior, Austin Peay
Kicker — Aidian O’Neill, junior, Towson
Linemen — Nathan Clayberg, senior, Drake; Maurice Jackson, junior, Richmond; Filipe Sitake, senior, Weber State; Solomon Brown, senior, Charleston Southern.
Linebackers — Pete Swenson, senior, Western Illinois; De’Arius Christmas, senior, Grambling State; Cameron Gill, junior, Wagner.
Backs — Abu Daramy-Swaray, junior, Colgate; Dominic Frasch, senior, Cal Poly; Davon Jernigan, senior, Lamar; Jordan Brown, senior, South Dakota State
Punter — Garret Wegner, sophomore, North Dakota State
MORE ON OLSON
2018: Finalist for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award … Named First-Team All-America by the Associated Press … 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