USC's Jake Olson Nominated for Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award
USC’s Jake Olson is this week’s nominee for the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award.
Olson, a redshirt sophomore long snapper, lost his eyesight to cancer but joined the Trojans in 2015 as a walk-on. He snapped on a successful extra point in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 38-10 win against Oregon State, his second appearance of the season.
“I just think there’s a beauty in it,” Olson said after his first game appearance, in Week 1. “If you can’t see how God works things out, then I think you’re the blind one. I think to have a situation where a 12-year-old kid loses his sight and going to have to face the rest of his life without seeing is just ugly, and to fast forward eight years and have that same kid be able to snap on the football field that really got him through that time, is just really just special and incredible and I just want to thank everyone a part of it. I’m honored that I was part of God’s plan in that way of Him getting me out here and inspiring thousands of people just through this whole experience.”
Olson, who was also nominated for the Courage Award in 2015, was born with retinoblastoma, which is a cancer of the retina. He lost his left eye when he was 10 months old and, despite several procedures, he had his right eye removed when he was 12, in 2009.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Olson won the 2016 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award, which is given to a leader in college football who has realized his or her potential to impact the rare disease community. He is a motivational speaker, and he has co-authored two books on overcoming adversity.
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 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Pittsburgh running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose 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 Jose State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).
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