Earlier this month, the call came. It’s not the absolute best news – no spot on a 53-man roster in the National Football League just yet – but Olson now believes his dream is more tangible than ever.
He’s officially taken on an agent with the Atlas Sports Agency, and next spring he’ll be off to Franklin, Tenn., to take part in an eight-week training program that he hopes will land him a chance with an NFL squad.
Olson said the agency is paying his way for the camp, which begins in May. Originally, the 25-year-old was going to attend a session of D1 Combine Training in January, but that session is primarily for athletes preparing for a pre-draft combine.
The 6-foot-3, 243-pounder had already completed a combine earlier this year with stellar results. He received final test grades of 9.18 on a 10-point scale at the ELITE Pro Football National Combine in Indianapolis this past June. ELITE’s pro standard is an eight, and a score above 8.6 is considered particularly impressive.
Alumni of the D1 Combine Training camps include Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams, Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis, and 10 players selected in the 2010 NFL Draft. Among those names? Denver quarterback Tim Tebow and wide receivers Golden Tate and Jordan Shipley for Seattle and Cincinnati, respectively.
Olson will attend the May session to make himself as attractive an option as possible for teams looking for pickups for summer mini camps.
“If I train in May, I’ll be ready for a mini camp in peak shape, instead of training from January to March, waiting around for mini camp in June or July and then possibly losing some of the progress made,” he said.
Olson has had to overcome several hurdles just to reach this latest opportunity. He wasn’t a prominent feature on his high school team. While in college as a walk-on at Division II Bemidji State (Minn.) University, a severe dislocation of his AC joint in 2008 sidelined him for nearly eight months and almost derailed his career.
There was nerve damage in his shoulder, but doctors have told Olson it is 100 percent healed. But the injury had lingering effects – Olson has said executives for multiple NFL teams apparently thought signing Olson after the ELITE combine was too much of a risk.
In between his day job, Olson has been eating and training with the idea that he’d get another chance. He said he knew inside that his goal was – and still is – reachable.
“To me, it’s not a leap of faith,” he said. “I’ve put in the work, and I know how well I can perform. … I’ve dreamt it, visualized it, tasted it, slept on it. I’ve already been there. My body has been catching up to where my brain’s already been.”