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College football: Blind center makes debut for USC

Posted at 4:02 PM, Sep 03, 2017

The collegiate football debut of a long snapper during the first game of the season rarely draws much attention, even at a storied program such as USC. 

But when the said long snapper happens to be blind, it gathers a lot of attention. 

Near the end of USC's 49-31 victory over Western Michigan on Saturday, Jake Olson lined up at long snapper to hike the ball for a point after kick attempt. 

It turns out Olson's muscle memory and the snap was spot on. 

"It’s an operation," Olson said. "From a holder making sure I line up straight, it creates a lot of trust. The whole game is about trust, but specially in that play. I love being out there, it was an awesome feeling. Something that I’ll remember forever."

Olson has been blind since age 12. At birth, he was diagnosed with retinoblastoma. At 10 months old, Olson lost his left eye, and at age 12, just one day after attending a USC football camp, Olson had his other eye surgically removed. 

Despite his lack of sight, Olson was a two-sport athlete in high school. 

Olson was a golfer, who normally shot in the 80s. He also served as the long snapper for Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High School. 

After redshirting in 2015 and not seeing playing time in 2016, Olson got to live out a life-long dream of playing in a game for USC.

"I think to have a situation where a 12 year old kid loses his sight and going to have to face the rest of his life without seeing is just ugly, and to fast forward eight years and have that same kid be able to snap on the football field that really got him through that time, is just really just special and incredible," Olson said. 

USC head coach Clay Helton suggested that Saturday's appearance would not be Olson's last. 

"We’re going to try as often as we can to allow Jake to settle," Helton said. "Hopefully it wasn’t a one-time event. I’m very proud of him. He’s put a ton of work in. To see him execute in that moment, is what being a player is all about. He produced for his team and his family.”