CHICAGO – The preseason accolades continue to roll in for Montana senior linebacker Dante Olson. Monday he was named to the 35th annual Butkus Award collegiate watch list honoring the nation’s top Division-I linebacker.
He is the only player from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) to make the list.
Olson is also only the second player in Montana history, and the second in as many years, to be named to the prestigious watch list following Josh Buss’ recognition in 2018. Devin White of Louisiana State won the Butkus Award that season before being selected fifth in the NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Since 1984, the Butkus Foundation and its 51-person selection panel have honored the nation’s 51 best linebackers at the professional, college, and high school levels, mirroring the legendary “51” pro jersey associated with the award’s namesake Dick Butkus, who was recognized by NFL Films as the best defensive player in football history.
The collegiate Butkus Award watch list includes candidates from 39 universities, including returning finalist Dylan Moses of Alabama who won the 2016 high school Butkus Award and returning semifinalist Markus Bailey of Purdue.
Olson, a 6-foot-3, 237-pound senior from Medford, Ore., is coming off one of the most productive defensive seasons in Montana and Big Sky Conference history with a school-record and FCS-best 151 total tackles.
He has since been named to seven all-America teams, was a top-three finalist for the 2018 Buck Buchanan Award, earned first-team all-conference honors, and was named Montana’s Steve Carlson team MVP.
Last week in Spokane, Wash., Olson was named the Big Sky Preseason Defensive MVP and has also been named to the Athlon Sports and HERO Sports 2019 Preseason All-America Teams, as well as the College Football America Yearbook’s 2019 FCS Preseason Starting Lineup.
Other players to join the Butkus Award Watch List with Olson who are already in the conversation to be a rare defensive Heisman Trophy candidate include Joe Bachie of Michigan State, Shaq Quarterman of Miami (Fl.), and Troy Dye of Oregon, who will go head-to-head against Olson and the Grizzlies in week three in Eugene.
The Butkus Foundation’s 51-person selection panel is made up of a who’s-who of college and professional football, including head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, Howie Roseman, the Executive VP of Football Operations for the Philadelphia Eagles, Alabama head coach Nick Saban, College Gameday’s Kirk Herbstreit, NFL legend Mike Singletary, and John Dorsey, the general manager of the Cleveland Browns.
Semifinalists will be named November 4, finalists November 25, and winners on or before December 10. Appearing on the watch list is not a requirement to win the award.
The Butkus Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. NCFAA’s 25 awards have honored more than 800 recipients since 1935.
Olson and the Grizzlies open the 2019 campaign at South Dakota on August 31. UM will return to Missoula for the home opener on September 7, under the lights at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
Season and single-game tickets are now on sale for Montana’s 12-game schedule and can be purchased at the Adams Center Box Office, over the phone at 1-888-MONTANA, and at GrizTix.com.
2019 Butkus Award Watch List
Joe Bachie, Michigan State
Markus Bailey, Purdue
Mohamed Barry, Nebraska
Zack Baun, Wisconsin
Tuf Borland, Ohio State
Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech
Cameron Brown, Penn State
T.J. Brunson, South Carolina
Calvin Bundage, Oklahoma State
K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU
Akeem Davis-Gaither, Appalachian State
Michael Divinity Jr., LSU
Troy Dye, Oregon
Tony Fields II, Arizona
Paddy Fisher, Northwestern
Cale Garrett, Missouri
Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State
De’Jon Harris, Arkansas
Malik Harrison, Ohio State
Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
Dontavious Jackson, Florida State
Anfernee Jennings, Alabama
Clay Johnston, Baylor
Nate Landman, Colorado
Sage Lewis, FIU
Terrell Lewis, Alabama
Kamal Martin, Minnesota
Dylan Moses, Alabama
Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
Dante Olson, Montana
Micah Parsons, Penn State
Jacob Phillips, LSU
Michael Pickney, Miami (Fla.)
Shaquille Quarterman, Miami (Fla.)
Patrick Queen, LSU
Chapelle Russell, Temple
Mohamed Sanogo, Mississippi
Colin Schooler, Arizona
Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
Charles Snowden, Virginia
Justin Strnad, Wake Forest
Darrell Taylor, Tennessee
Davion Taylor, Colorado
Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State
Erroll Thompson, Mississippi State
Joshua Uche, Michigan
Mykal Walker, Fresno State
Evan Weaver, California
Javin White, UNLV
Logan Wilson, Wyoming
David Woodward, Utah State
MORE ON OLSON
2019: Big Sky Conference Preseason Defensive MVP … Was the only player in FCS Football named to the 2019 Butkus Award Watch List … Named to the College Football America Yearbook 2019 FCS Preseason Starting Lineup … Earned Montana’s nomination for the AFCA Good Works Team … Named to the Athlon Sports and HERO Sports 2019 Preseason All-America teams … Spring 2019 President’s List – 4.0 GPA … Returns for his senior season after shattering the school record for single-season tackles (151) in 2018 … All over the place in the first spring scrimmage, Olson had a team-high 5 tackles … Logged 2 tackles in the Grizzlies Spring game.
2018: Finalist for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award … Athlon Sports All-American … Phil Steele 2018 FCS Defensive Player of the Year … Phil Steele Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year … Phil Steele First-Team All-American … AFCA First-Team All-American … STATS FCS First-Team All-American … Walter Camp Foundation All-American … Associated Press First-Team All-American … American Football Coaches Association First-Team All-American … HERO Sports First-Team All-American … Led Division I football in total tackles (FBS and FCS) in the regular season with 151 … Broke Kendrick Van Ackeren’s school record for single-season tackles (130) … 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 … 2018 GoGriz.com Person of the Year [gogriz.com]… FCS ADA Academic All-Star … 2018 University of Montana President’s List (4.0 GPA) … 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 …. 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 … Academic All-Big Sky … 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