Jake Olson would have preferred a victory in his first game as a member of USC’s football team, but his experience on Saturday night at the Coliseum was still something he cherished.
Olson, a long snapper who is blind, began practicing with the Trojans last week. The freshman walk-on, who has been involved in the Trojans program since he was a pre-teen, is wearing jersey No. 61.
Saturday’s game was his first in the locker room and on the sideline as an official player on the roster.
“It was awesome,” he said afterward. “I was firing guys up and just being out there and contributing every way I could.”
Olson, 6-feet-4 and 195 pounds, snapped on extra points and field goals for Orange Lutheran High. He said he had no timeline for when he expected to play in a game for the Trojans.
“I just started practice,” he said. “I’m just out there showing people what I’ve got.... I don’t want any special treatment in a sense of putting me above any other long snapper that’s on the team just because I am who I am.
“I want to work my way up to it. And so I’m just a freshman…. I want to continue to improve. When the day comes, I just want to be out there and snap like anyone else and make PATs and field goals all night long.”
Olson’s story has generated news coverage all over the world. He is comfortable with the attention if it can inspire others.
He does not expect the Trojans to be down for long after the 41-31 defeat by Stanford.
“Obviously, it hurts,” he said. “But you can’t let it stop you. You can’t let it beat you twice.
“I am confident that we are a great football team. And this is tough loss, but I don’t think it defines us in any way shape or form and I think we’ll rebound just fine.”
Olson reflected on his first week as a team member and said it was “a dream come true.”
“Being out there in pads and being a teammate was a new feeling, a great feeling,” he said. “I’m connected to this program more than I’ve ever been in my entire life.
“It was an awesome, awesome week, I’m so thankful.”