CHARLESTON, SC (WIS) - The week David Olson got the Jim Hudson Football Friday scholarship was an eventful one for the former Irmo Yellow Jacket.
The quarterback was notified of the award on the same week the Jackets played Dorman in the playoffs.
“I was excited for it,” Olson remembered, “Got to get pulled out of class for maybe an hour or so and had some fans there, some students there cheering in the background. It was actually a pretty cool event that day.”
Olson went on to Stanford after his final year at Irmo. There, grayshirted under head coach Jim Harbaugh. Although he was on the team, Olson had his fair share of struggles keeping up on and off the field.
“I didn’t start off so well,” Olson said. “It was a lot of acclimating to football, which was run like an NFL program, which is great, but you’ve got to be ready for it. I made my first ‘non-A’ of my life. Made many of those…and then kind of fought back after a little bit.”
One year after getting to Stanford, Harbaugh left to coach the San Francisco 49ers. With his coach leaving for the pros, the promise of a scholarship through the grayshirting process was no longer there. Thankfully, his Jim Hudson Football Friday scholarship came in handy.
“Going in, anticipating and hoping for an athletic scholarship, but not getting it, obviously, the money from Jim Hudson and the Jim Hudson group really helped me,” Olson said. “I had to take out loans and all that so it kind of helped take off some of that off my shoulders. So, that was a real blessing. I couldn’t be more thankful.”
After spending four years at Stanford and finishing with a 3.3 grade point average, Olson only had one play in regulation to show for his time with the program – a kneel to end a game in Seattle. Olson went on to find playing time as a graduate transfer with a scholarship at Clemson.
“It was a dream come true and it really was one of the first real cemented building blocks for me in establishing my faith in a process in itself and,ultimately, my faith in the Lord was restored and really brought to fruition for the first real time in my life,” Olson said, “because I blindly, as an undergraduate, thought, ‘You know what? Something is going to come of this.’ I just kept working and kept working and kept working. And when it happened, it was like, you put your faith in something and I wasn’t saved at the time and I put faith in something and, eventually, you might see what happens. It just felt like a miracle.”
Olson later went on to play arena football with the Wichita Force. He led the Force to an undefeated season and the Champions Indoor League title. Later, he would sign with the Baltimore Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh.
After his time in Baltimore, Olson played in the Spring League with the likes of former Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel and ex-LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. In that showcase league, Olson broke his ankle during a game. However, it was his experience in that league that helped him realize he wanted to be a coach.
“That whole process of the Spring League and having guys come together and form a team and make sure everyone knows the playbook and being the quarterback on a professional team, I learned that I loved coaching,” Olson said. “I knew in my soul I was ready to start coaching.”
As he rehabbed his ankle, Olson devoted his time to becoming a coach. Ultimately, that lead him to Charleston Southern where he is now a graduate assistant. Looking back, Olson said it was the lessons he learned at Irmo that helped him persevere through it all.
“One of the things that Coach (Bob) Hanna said to us after our last football game when we lost to Dorman in the playoffs was that the sun will come up tomorrow,” Olson recalled. “’Some of you guys may have played your last football ever. Some of you guys haven’t, but it still hurts. But, all that aside, the sun is going to come up tomorrow. Life’s going to go on and you’re going to have to pick up the pieces.’ That resonated with me. That lasted to this point and I’ll remember that forever.”