USC searching for way to get blind player into a game
LOS ANGELES (AP) Blind long-snapper Jake Olson got his first taste of live action in practice with No. 19 Southern California on Wednesday, and coach Steve Sarkisian is already thinking about scenarios to get him into a game.
Olson delivered a perfect snap to begin a successful field goal attempt during practice with the Trojans, taking another step toward participation in a game.
Olson didn't face a live rush in the drills, however. The freshman, who only joined practice last week, is currently limited to only certain drills, and he participates in a yellow non-contact jersey.
Though there is no timetable for Olson to play in a game, Sarkisian said he would come to a ''mutual agreement'' with an opposing coach when the moment happens, making sure Olson can safely participate in game action.
''Just from a sheer sportsmanship standpoint, it sends a tremendous message for college athletics,'' Sarkisian said. ''For our program, what it would mean to our team for Jake to be able to do that would be tremendous from a morale standpoint.''
Olson frequently attended USC games and practices as a guest of former coach Pete Carroll before a form of cancer took his sight when he was 12 years old.
He became the long-snapper for his Orange County high school team, and he hopes to snap on extra points and field goals someday for the Trojans. Olson is on a special scholarship for physically challenged athletes.
With No. 19 USC (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12) coming off a 41-31 upset loss to Stanford in its Pac-12 opener, Sarkisian believes that Olson's continuing triumph over adversity sends a good message to the team. The Trojans visit Arizona State on Saturday in danger of falling to .500 and ruining their national title hopes with one more loss.
''I think it puts a lot of things into perspective for a lot of people around here that life is pretty good,'' Sarkisian said. ''You're having a bad day, and you see that guy go out there and snap the ball and do it the way he did, it's pretty inspiring.''