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Southpaw Jesus

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The Daily Bruin profiles the new Olson on Campus:


DHARMISHTA ROOD/daily bruin senior staff

Here are the money grafs on how Olson has taken charge of the team:

As one of Olson's closest friends and truest confidantes on the team, redshirt senior wide receiver Junior Taylor was having dinner with the quarterback soon after the close of spring practice at the end of last season. Olson asked Taylor how he fared in the spring session. Taylor didn't hold back. He didn't give Olson encouragement, but blunt criticism.

"I just told him straight out that he needs to be the guy who everything works around," Taylor said at practice on Friday. "He was making the plays, but he has to do more, he has to lead. We need the guys on the team to all look at Ben whenever the game is on the line."

Olson took the words to heart. He started to handle the business of the team, particularly away from the field. He organized training sessions for his teammates in the summer. He made sure that when the guys would socialize, even just for an afternoon, everyone was welcomed, and that all of his teammates had a closer relationship with him.

So when Olson's second training camp with UCLA rolled around, he had an entirely different feeling about his status on the field.

Dorrell hadn't officially named the starting quarterback at the start of camp, repeatedly saying that Olson "had to earn the job" against backup Pat Cowan. Yet it was obvious who had become the leader of the team, with or without the official word from Dorrell.

"I am preparing to be starter, and I expect to be the starter," Olson said after the first day of camp
And then his expectations as the starting QB for UCLA Bruins:
As he changes his jersey from No. 3 to No. 7 this year, Olson is poised for a breakout season. With all the different lofty hypotheticals that are tossed around, Olson is shying away from being yet another prognosticator. His predictions might be more scrutinized than his play on the field.

The perception might be that UCLA's 2006 season is the year of Ben Olson's emergence, but the reality is that there are still many questions looming for a team returning only 12 starters.

What's being asked of Olson is to become the face of the program, and he might ultimately be held responsible for any success or failure the Bruins endures whether the credit or blame is his or not.

However, to think that Olson is a young man who loses composure or even starts to believe all the hype, is to not have listened to him talk about football in relation to life.

"I have big aspirations with football," he said. "I want to take UCLA to a national title. I want to play in the NFL. But to think about what other people say, I can't. I have to be stronger than that."
(emphasis mine) I don't recall ever being so fired up for a UCLA quarterback's debut at the Rose Bowl. Last time I was this excited about a player getting his first substative shot in a game was probably Foster's first game in 1998. But certain have never been this fired up for quarterback. I wasn't really following the Bruins when Aikman got in his first game. Perhaps those here who have been around longer can tell us whether they were this excited about Troy Aikman as we are about Southpaw Jesus.

Could be a special day this Saturday. I cannot wait.

GO BRUINS.