Southpaw Jesus ...

UPDATED (4/23/06):Yes the nickname makes sense. The big news from last 48 hrs in CFB is the latest high school QB phenom committing to ND. The boys over at BGS and the House Rock Built are understandbly a litte excited (and predictably the TrojanPundit had a bitter reaction). The story made sense for me t bump a post from August 3, 2005 up again to reintroduce the BruinsNation to a kid who himself was hailed the greatest high school QB since John Elway in Southern California 5 years ago. Last year back in August everyone though BO was going to beat out DO in the preseason camp and get the starting nod. And if not for BO banging his fingers against a team-mate's helmet during practice - he was destined to be the starting QB. We all know what happened next. Now here we are again. Just few days there were rumors on message boards that Patrick Cowan (Joe Cowan's little brother) is going to give the BO a run for his money at the starting job during the August camp. Dorrell himself did not want to make any committment to BO after a ho hum spring scrimmage performance:

There was nothing spectacular for either quarterback in a ho-hum scrimmage.

Olson, a sophomore transfer from Brigham Young out of Thousand Oaks High, completed 12 of 18 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown, but other than a 29-yard completion on his first series there was very little throwing down the field.

Cowan went 9 of 21 for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He showed pocket presence on several occasions, avoiding a rush to make a nice throw, but there also were two interceptions that stained his day.

One came when he underthrew an out-route, and Bret Lockett intercepted. The other was a forced pass to tight end Travis Martin. It was picked off by Aaron Ware and returned for a touchdown.

"I don't think anything stood out, in either case," Dorrell said. "With (Olson), he's holding the ball a little bit too long and he's putting himself in bad situations in the pocket. He can continue to work and get himself on rhythm.
Afterwards Dorrell didn't want to commit to a definite starter going into August training camp. Whatever. It is ridiculous to think someone like Patrick Cowan is the answer when you have a talent like Ben Olson on the roster. That's like giving someone like Ryan Fien/Rob Walker the nod over Cade McNowne or going with Brett Johnson/Jimmy Bonds over Tommy Maddox (can't remember who Aikman "beat out" in practice - obviously not worth remembering). He is the one who will have to deliver the goods under KD this upcoming season.


Photo Credit:Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise

If KD cannot get it done this year with this kid, a 23 year old, redshirt sophmore (who is supposed to be light years ahead of Weinke), who is supposed to be the most talented QB talent to come into Westwood since HOFer Aikman, he will never get it done. Here is to hoping for Ben/KD getting it done - winning 9 games and beating SC. By the way the outside observers have soooo much faith in KD's coaching abilities that they don't even list BO among "others to watch," when listing the top college QBs going into next season. I mean they list losers like Cal's Ayoob and Miami's Kyle Wright among "others to watch," but BO is found no where in that list. I wonder where would BO find himself if he was playing under a legit/recognized coach like Cal's Tedford. Here again is a refresher, just a taste of the Ben Olson hype coming out of August training camp in 2005. Lack of talent at QB - the most crucial position of a football program will not hold up as an excuse in 2006. We have a program savior type of talen in BO. It's up to KD to harness the talent, take advantage of it, and produce results (9 wins and a win over SC). GO BRUINS. -N

8/3/2005 - N:Kevin Pearson of the Riverside Press Enterprise has penned one of the better profiles on one of the most anticiapted, celebrated, and highest profile incoming football recruit (transfer probably the better term) since Troy Aikman. Of course we are talking about the possible "Big Red" of Bruin football - Ben Olson (if he wins a NC he will be compared to the other "Big Red" dominating UCLA sports landscape). Anyways, it is pretty clear from this profile, everyone is hoping Ben will be our savior (emphasis mine):

The Savior?

If a coach were to create a physically perfect quarterback from the ground up, he might end up with a clone of Olson. He is quick, mobile in the pocket and possesses strong legs. His chest is strong, chiseled and broad; his arms are long and powerful and his hands engulf yours as though you were an infant.

At 6-foot-5, Olson's steely blue eyes can gaze over UCLA's offensive line, and his left-handed throws are as captivating as his frame. The ball leaves his hand with a finger-numbing zip, sailing to wide receivers with a tight, counter-clockwise spin in a laser-steady path.

"I've seen glimpses of different quarterbacks like him, but Ben is a different type," UCLA senior wide receiver Junior Taylor said. "It's unbelievable what type of athlete he is."

Once labeled the best California prep quarterback since John Elway, it's easy to see why many consider Olson the savior of a rising program. He is the most important recruit since DeShaun Foster, and his commitment on Dec. 20 instantly created a positive buzz on message boards about the future of the program.

He will likely back up good friend Drew Olson this season before taking the reins in 2006. He has not played in a game since November 2001, and how quickly he can learn the West Coast Offense is a concern.

"I can't stress this enough: it will take some time," Biggins said. "But his upside is off the charts."
Ben is a walking giant in Westwood.  Everyone back home in Westwood is hoping this kid will be another superstar like Troy or Cade, turning our program around:


Photo Credit:Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise

You can read the entire article by clicking here, and I am posting more excerpts in the extended entry section, which you can go to by clicking on "read more."

Here are some more highlights from that PE article. Enjoy:

The Prodigy

Tucked away among ranch houses on a tree-lined street in Thousand Oaks sits a peach-colored adobe-style house with a basketball hoop in front and a small swimming pool in the back.

Inside, there are no mementos that suggest one of Ventura County's best athletes once resided there. Instead, the house is decorated in a livable elegance, with family and religious portraits lining the walls.

Rick Olson, an investment banker who carefully chooses his words, loosens his navy blue tie. Annie, a homemaker with dark red hair, sits near the black piano and talks of how her son got his start in football while in Missouri, and how it was nearly delayed by family friend Andy Reid, now the Eagles coach, who suggested that children under 14 not play tackle football.

Annie laughs when she recalls the morning after Ben's first game: He sat at the breakfast table and pulled up his shirt, showing off his bruises and then his banged-up knuckles.

"He just looked at us and said, 'I love this game,' " she said.

Olson's stock skyrocketed quickly. By his senior year at Thousand Oaks High, he was the No. 1 recruit in the country after throwing for 2,989 yards and 32 touchdowns. Boxed away inside the Olson home are letters from nearly every major college program recruiting the first-team All-American, who was selected the top quarterback at the Elite 11 Camp.

"You name them, they wanted him," said Olson's high school coach, Mike Sanders. "There was tons of pressure."

UCLA, USC and BYU were the front-runners, and Olson committed early to BYU. The Cougars had gone 10-2 in 2001 and Olson was immediately tabbed as the next great BYU passer.

Decision Time

With a long family history of Mormon missions, Olson's decision wasn't easy. He agonized over it while in the midst of BYU's 2002 season, when the Cougars struggled to a 5-7 record.

"Ben struggled with the thought and feeling that he was given this talent for a reason, and he could be an example as a football player and not serve a traditional mission, and reach more people that way," Olson's father, Rick, said.

Frustrated with redshirting and with a coaching change looming, Olson announced his decision before the season finale against Utah. He informed his family and filed the necessary paperwork with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City.

"He was struggling a little bit, and he put all his eggs in his faith basket and said, 'I am not sure what to do, so I will choose my faith,' " Sanders said.

The missions typically are performed by men ages 19-26 and last about two years. A panel chooses the destination, based in part on need and on divine inspiration. Olson figured if he left in January, he could return to school in time for spring workouts two years later.

"I wanted someplace foreign, but not too foreign," Olson said. "I didn't want to camp in a jungle for two years, and I was scared of going to Russia."

Olson got his wish when his packet arrived: His assignment was in Canada.

A Discovery Process

After arriving in Alberta in mid-winter, Olson and another missionary moved into a small apartment in Calgary. Every day, Elder Olson would wake up at 6:30 a.m. and study the Book of Mormon for an hour. He would be afforded another hour to eat and shower, and by 10 a.m., he and his partner would be on their bicycles spreading the Mormon message.

Armed with a Bible and wearing a simple black suit with a black tie and white shirt, Olson spent six days a week going door-to-door. Mostly, there was a polite "no, thanks." Other times, the door would slam in his face. In two years, Olson estimates only 30 to 40 people let him inside.

Olson and his partner roamed from wealthy areas to impoverished slums. They trekked to cabins in the backwoods and rural farmlands. Along the way, they offered help beyond gospel, acting as good Samaritans whenever they could.

On one occasion, Olson's mother recalled, he helped a rancher brand cattle for an entire day. The next Monday -- the day designated for errands and personal matters -- he wrote in his weekly e-mail about what he had done and how good it felt to be sore from hard labor.

"That's Ben for you," said Annie, sitting with her feet propped up. "You could tell he loved it."

For the Olsons, those weekly e-mails were their only form of communication. Ben was cut off from the world, unable to watch TV, read a newspaper or participate in anything pop culture. Half-hour phone calls were permitted on Mother's Day and Christmas, and both parents readily admit crying each time they heard their son's voice.

But with the Mormon community tightly knit, he was still unable to fully escape the pressure of being Ben Olson. Other missionaries asked if he planned to return to BYU, and senior members of the church would talk football. Even among strangers, he was recognized a handful of times.

"You are supposed to forget about yourself and figure out who you are, and what you are," Olson said. "How can you forget about yourself if everyone recognizes you?"

A Quick Welcome Home

Ten minutes.

That's how much time passed between when Olson landed in Los Angeles and the phone rang, a reporter asking where he would be playing football and what his immediate plans were. Olson had decided not to return to BYU for several reasons, including his desire to be closer to home.

Within days, the phone was ringing as often as it had a few years earlier, when Olson was the nation's top recruit.

"I was thrown back into this world that I hadn't lived in for two years," Olson said. "It was scary to wake up and not be a missionary. It happened so fast."

Cal, UCLA, USC, South Carolina, Notre Dame, Arizona State. They all wanted Olson.

"He had the attitude that when he came back, God would take him to the place he needs to be," Sanders said.

The week he returned, Olson was on the sidelines of UCLA's 31-29 loss to Washington State on Nov. 6, 2004. He strolled through the locker room after the game, shaking hands and giving interviews to reporters outside the locker room. Olson, who was a UCLA fan growing up, indicated that the Bruins were the clear favorites.

"The surprise would have been if he went anywhere else," said Greg Biggins, a recruiting analyst for studentsports.com. "I think every sign pointed to him ending up there all along."
Again, you can click on the link above if you want to read the whole thing.
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