Dante Olson has been proving people wrong as an underdog his whole life. After going unselected in the 2020 NFL Draft, he’ll get the opportunity to do it on the world’s biggest stage as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The greatest tackler in Montana and Big Sky Conference history received the chance to make a literal dream of a lifetime come true Saturday, signing with the Eagles less than an hour after the final pick of the draft from his home in Missoula.
Olson joins former UM standout and current Eagles safeties coach Tim Hauck, former UM quarterback and current Eagles offensive consultant Marty Mornhinweg, and former UM defensive coordinator and current Eagles linebackers coach Ken Flajole in Philadelphia. Olson also becomes just the fourth Grizzly in program history to sign with the Eagles on draft day.
Olson also joins a team that features former Montana State linebacker Alex Singleton. Before the signings of Olson plus former MSU standouts Bryce Sterk (Miami Dolphins) and Travis Jonsen (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Singleton was the only former Bobcat or Grizzly on an active NFL roster. Former Bobcat Mike Person and former Griz Trumaine Johnson will likely sign soon as well.
Olson, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound inside linebacker, shattered Montana’s all-time tackling record in just two years as a starter with 397 total takedowns, and broke the league record with 179 stops (76 solo) as a senior that included a game-high 14 tackles against Oregon.
“Since the beginning of my life, my dream has always been to play in the NFL, and today that dream came true. I can’t even begin to put into words how thankful I am not only for this opportunity, but for those who have believed in me and pushed me along the way,” said Olson in an Instagram post shortly after signing.
“A lot of people see results, but not many people see the work put in behind the scenes, and I couldn’t be more fired up to be part of the Philadelphia Eagles organization. God is too good, Fly Eagles Fly!!!”
He caught the attention of the football world at the NFL Combine in February, showing off his explosiveness with a 42-inch vertical jump – one of the best-ever results by a linebacker. He also impressed with a 124-inch broad jump.
For the kid from Medford, Oregon, who learned the game growing up on his dad’s football field – Southern Oregon Hall of Fame coach Jeff Olson – the day marks the next step in his lifelong dream to play in the NFL.
Olson now joins the long list of Grizzlies to move on to the professional level, becoming the 149th player in program history to advance to earn a shot professionally
“We are very proud of Dante and all he’s accomplished on and off the field during his time at Montana,” said Grizzly head coach Bobby Hauck.
“He’s got what it takes to be an NFL player, and we are all excited to see his career continue at the next level.”
Following his record-setting collegiate career, Olson collected nearly every post-season award on offer for a defensive player in the FCS.
A 2018 finalist, Olson won the 2019 Buck Buchanan Award that goes to the top defensive player in the FCS. He was also named the FCS Athletic Directors Association Defensive Player of the Year, and was a consensus All-American. Olson was also named to the prestigious AFCA All-Good Works team for his community service efforts off the field.
In pre-draft scouting, NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein described Olson as a “Tall, angular inside linebacker who is slightly below average by athletic measurements but way above average when it comes to “see ball, get ball.” Olson is an instinctive, skilled hunter who feels play development and takes winning angles to the football. He’s a heavy striker and a fundamentally sound tackler in the open field.”
The 2020 Draft marks the first time in 20 years no players from the Big Sky Conference had their named called during one of the draft’s seven rounds.
Olson and the other NFL rookies will report to training camp with the Eagles on July 24 at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia.
Press release written by Eric Taber, Montana sports information. All Rights Reserved.