Football Writers Association of America Sept. 23, 2015
For Immediate Release
Contact: Daniel Pyser
305-341-4734
Blind long snapper walks on to Trojans
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USC'S OLSON NOMINATED
FOR ORANGE BOWL-FWAA COURAGE AWARD

DALLAS (FWAA) – USC's Jake Olson is this week's nominee for the 2015 Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.

Olson, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound freshman long snapper from Huntington Beach, Calif., lost his eyesight to cancer but officially joined the Trojans on Sept. 15 as a walk-on. Olson was born with retinoblastoma, a cancer of the retina. He lost his left eye when he was 10 months old and had his right eye removed when he was 12, in 2009, despite a number of procedures.

"I just started practice," Olson said after his first game Saturday, according to The Los Angeles Times. "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 wears a yellow non-contact jersey in practice, but he is in the mix on snapping and helping on special teams. He received a scholarship to attend USC from Swim With Mike's Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund. Since that scholarship is considered athletic aid, the Trojans sought an NCAA waiver on Aug. 19 so that Olson did not count against their 85-man scholarship limit.

A lifelong USC fan who had been welcomed to the team as a visitor by old head coach Pete Carroll, Olson served as a long snapper his junior and senior seasons at Orange Lutheran High. He played golf as well. Current USC head coach Steve Sarkisian had said that Olson would be welcomed as part of the team, with the goal of having him snap during a game.

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

Previous winners of the award are Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San José State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San José State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).

About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is a 363-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 31, 2015. Other Orange Bowl core events include the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance presented by Sports Authority, Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships, Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta, Orange Bowl Swim Classic and Orange Bowl Paddle Championships. For more information on the 2015-16 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org. Follow Orange Bowl: @OrangeBowl, Facebook and Instagram.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

2015 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
• Sept. 16: Bobby Swigert, Boston College
• Sept. 23: Jake Olson, USC
• Sept. 30: Anthony Zettel, Penn State
• Oct. 7: Leonard Fournette, LSU
• Oct. 14: Cheatham Norrils, Toledo
• Oct. 21: J.B. Grimes, Auburn
• Oct. 28: D.J. Foster, Arizona State
• Nov. 4: Demetrious Nicholson, Virginia
• Nov. 11: Jerry Kill, Minnesota
• Nov. 18: Mitchell Meyers, Iowa State
• Nov. 25: Hunter Knighton, Miami
• Dec. 2: Justin Hansen, Colorado State

Related link:
• Capital One Orange Bowl Courage Award