Olson Signs with Philadelphia Eagles

Dante Olson has been proving people wrong as an underdog his whole life, and 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, fomer 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.

The 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 the next level.

“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.

Other former Grizzlies who found success in the NFL took to Twitter to show their support for Olson in the hours following his signing. Former UM receiver and Pro Bowl record-breaker with the Tennessee Titans Marc Mariani chimed in, as did former Grizzly linebacker and an NFC Champion with the Seattle Seahawks Brock Coyle.

Olson and the other NFL rookies will report to training camp with the Eagles on July 24 at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia.

More on Olson

Individual Football Honors and Records:
2019 Season (senior):

  • Buck Buchanan Award Winner (FCS Defensive Player of the Year)
  • FCS ADA Defensive Player of the Year
  • Walter Camp All-American
  • AFCA First-Team All-American
  • STATS FCS First-Team All-American
  • FCS ADA All-American
  • Associated Press First-Team All-American
  • HERO Sports First-Team All-American
  • Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year
  • First-Team All-Big Sky Defense
  • Phil Steele Magazine Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year
  • Phil Steele Magazine First-Team All-Big Sky Defense
  • Montana’s Steve Carlson Award for Team MVP
  • Montana Defensive Team MVP
  • Golden Helmet Award Winner (Team’s Hardest Hitter)
  • 179 total tackles in 2019 (76 solo):
    • The most total tackles in FCS football for a second-straight season.
      • Also the most tackles in all levels of college football (FBS, FCS, D-II, D-III) as of 12/20/19
    • A new Big Sky Conference record for most single-season tackles
    • Broke the Montana school record he set as a junior (151)
  • Became Montana’s all-time leading tackler with 397 career stops, breaking Vince Huntsberger’s 2001 record of 393.
  • Posted double-digit tackle totals in 10 of Montana’s 14 games
  • Had a season-high 18 tackles in two games, Posted game-high 14 tackles (10 solo) against Oregon Ducks
  • National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete & William V. Campbell Trophy Finalist
  • CoSIDA Academic All-American
  • CoSIDA Academic All-District
  • Allstate AFCA Good Works Team Member
  • Butkus Award Preseason Watch List (Only FCS Player on the list)
  • Phil Steele Magazine Preseason All-America First Team
  • Phil Steele Magazine Preseason All-Big Sky First Team
  • Big Sky Conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
  • STATS FCS Preseason All-American
  • Athlon Sports Preseason All-American
  • HERO Sports Preseason All-American
  • College Football America Yearbook Preseason Starting Lineup
  • NFF Hampshire Honor Society

2018 Season (junior):

  • Set Montana school record for single season tackles (151- Previous 130, K. Van Ackeren, 2015)
  • NCAA Statistical Champion for Tackles Per Game (13.7 – the most in FCS or FBS football)
  • Top-three finalist for the STATS FCS Buck Buchanan Award (Defensive Player of the Year)
  • Phil Steele 2018 FCS Defensive Player of the Year
  • Phil Steele Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year
  • Phil Steele First-Team All-American
  • Athlon Sports All-American
  • STATS FCS First-Team All-American
  • Walter Camp Foundation All-American
  • Associated Press First-Team All-American
  • American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) First-Team All-American
  • HERO Sports First-Team All-American
  • First-Team All-Big Sky Defense
  • Steve Carlson Team MVP
  • Grizzly Team Defensive MVP
  • 2018 GoGriz.com Person of the Year
  • Three-time ROOT Sports Big Sky Player of the Week
  • Two-time College Sports Madness Big Sky Player of the Week
  • STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week (9/8)
  • Academic All-Big Sky

MORE: Against UNI (9/1), Olson led the Grizzly defense with 13 total tackles … Also recorded an interception which he returned 26 yards, a sack for a loss of 9 yards, one PBU and one QB hurry … Was named the ROOT Sports Big Sky Defensive Player of the Week after the UNI game …  Against Drake (9/8), Olson recorded 16 tackles, 2 sacks (career high), 3.5 TFL’s (career high), one forced fumble and one PBU … Olson recorded 11 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, half a sack, one QB hit, and an interception that he returned 25 yards in a well-rounded performance vs. Western Illinois (9/15) … Against Sacramento State (9/22) recorded 15 tackles, 1 sack, 1 PBU, and a QB hit … Against Cal Poly (9/29) Olson earned Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors for the 3rd time in 5 weeks putting up 24 total tackles (career high and 2nd best single-game tackling performance in UM history) … Against Portland State (10/6) put up 19 tackles, half a sack, 2 TFL’s and 2 forced fumbles … Olson put up 8 tackles and one half of a TFL in a matchup against North Dakota (10/13) … Olson added to his impressive season totals with a 13 tackle and one sack performance vs. #6 UC Davis (10/27) … Leading his team in tackling, Olson contributed to his team’s road victory over Idaho (11/10) with 10 tackles and a QB hit on the day … Olson completed his break-out season with an 18 tackle performance against rival Montana State (11/17)

2017 Season (sophomore):

  • Second Team All-Big Sky on Special Teams
  • UM’s Hauck Family Special Teams Player of the Year
  • Academic All-Big Sky

MORE: Recorded 38 tackles, 16 of them solo … Had 2 TFLs and one sack against Idaho State for a loss of seven yards … Blocked a kick against Northern Colorado … Logged QB hurries against Savannah State and Eastern Washington … Played in all 11 games for UM … Once again awarded the William (Robi) Robertson Memorial Athletic Scholarship at the annual Lindsay Awards Banquet

2016 Season (freshman):

  • UM’s Hauck Family Special Teams Player of the Year
  • Academic All-Big Sky

MORE: Olson played in 11 games as a redshirt freshman at linebacker … Recorded 29 tackles, seven of them solo … Had two tackles for loss for six yards, also recorded a sack … Had back to back games with seven tackles against Miss. Valley State and Sacramento State … Recorded both tackles for loss and also his only sack in the Miss. Valley State game… Awarded the William (Robi) Robertson Memorial Athletic Scholarship at the annual Lindsay Awards Banquet.

2015 Season (redshirt):

  • UM’s Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year

HIGH SCHOOL:Olson was a four-year letterman in football at Cascade Christian HS, where his team won four conference championships (10-3 in 2011; 13-1 in 2012; 12-2 in 2013, and 8-3 in 2014) in a row… Three-year team captain and defensive player of the year…. Also led his team in tackles for three seasons…Voted defensive MVP of his conference and the state two times… His senior year he had 135 tackles, 5 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles; rushed for 583 yards and 8 TDs… named to the state’s All-Star Football Game… A three-time all-state selection at linebacker and tight end (as a senior) … His prep coach was Jon Gettman…. Also lettered in basketball and tennis.

Scholastic Honors and Accomplishments:
• 2019 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete & William V. Campbell Trophy Finalist
• 2019 STATS FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award Finalist
• 2019 CoSIDA Academic All-American
• 2019 CoSIDA Academic All-District
• 2018 FCS Athletic Director’s Association Academic All-Star
• Four-time selection to Montana’s President’s Honor Roll for 4.0 GPA (Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019)
• Four-time selection to Dean’s List: Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2018,
• Three-time Academic All-Big Sky (2016, ’17, & ’18)
• Two-time recipient of Montana’s William (Robi) Robertson Memorial Athletic Scholarship

PERSONAL:Olson carries a 3.91 GPA …. A Management major with minor in Entertainment Management … His parents are Linda and Jeff Olson of Medford … His dad Jeff is a Hall of Fame head football coach at Southern Oregon University … Serves as a pen-pal mentor to a class of underprivileged kids in Northern California

Community Service
Campus Activities / Leadership / Citizenship: