As if losing to Montana in an overtime thriller last October wasn’t hard enough, the Cal Poly football team has suffered another setback of sorts to the Grizzlies.
Montana has received a verbal commitment from linebacker Dante Olson of Medford, Oregon. The Griz and Mustangs both offered a scholarship and Olson chose the Grizzlies.
“I went to (Montana’s) football camp and I just thought it was an all-around great fit,” said the high school senior-to-be. “The coaching staff is great, the city and surrounding area reminds me a lot of my hometown.
“That was really nice because I love the outdoors and hunting and fishing. And I just love the tradition of the Montana football program.”
Weighing 215 pounds and standing 6-foot-2 1/2, Olson has been a dominant force for the defending state champion Cascade Christian Challengers. Last year he was named defensive player of the year for Oregon’s Class 3A level.
“Once he gets on the field he has a real motor and everything is full speed with him,” said Dante’s dad, Jeff, who was head coach at Southern Oregon for 22 years. “That’s kind of what separated him. He’s a student of the game and the way he plays and practices, his practice speed is just the same as it is on game day.”
Critical to landing Olson was the connection Jeff Olson has with Griz assistant coach and former Oregon State player Jake Cookus. Jeff Olson gave Cookus his first college coaching job at NAIA Southern Oregon 12 years ago.
“Coach Cookus has maintained contact with Dante over the past year and Jake knew Dante when he was five or six years old and 3-feet tall,” Jeff Olson noted.
“Growing up around the game, Dante could have decided either I don’t really like it or I want to become totally immersed in it. It’s something he’s really found a true passion for. He was on the sidelines at Southern Oregon when he was just old enough to walk.”
Dante, whose brother played at Southern Oregon, says the Griz have hinted they will try him at linebacker or maybe a combination of linebacker and defensive end.