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In each issue of Bucknuts The Magazine, we have in-depth features on Ohio State football players, coaches and prospects. We also have analysis pieces on the Buckeyes as well as their opponents, the Big Ten and college football world in general. Plus, we have features on OSU athletes in a variety of sports, including men's and women's basketball, hockey, wrestling, baseball and other sports.
Headline: Leading The Way
By Kyle Lamb
(From April 2006 issue)
Ohio State had a plan. A fullback plan, that is. His name is Aram Olson and the plan was called into action late this fall with a simple obscure phone call from OSU running backs coach Dick Tressel placed to the Olson family.
Although the storybooks might tell you Tressel's phone call was when the Buckeyes began their pursuit of this 6-2, 252-pound bruising fullback from Irmo, S.C., the son of a former Minnesota football player might tell you differently.
"Well really, it started back in 2002," said Olson, "and you know what happened then."
Olson was just 14 years old, but in case anyone else needs a refresher course, he is referring to the national championship season for Ohio State, when the Buckeyes went 14-0 and capped it off with a victory over Miami (Fla.). That Fiesta Bowl classic was the end of Miami's 34-game winning streak.
Most of Olson's life has been spent in the South, the warm weather of South Carolina. But until he was 5 years old, Olson and three siblings lived in Wisconsin – the heart of Big Ten country.
Olson's father Bruce played quarterback for Minnesota and graduated in 1983. Despite all these years in the warm weather, Bruce and his wife Beverly still find solace and comfort in the pure things from the upper Midwest, such as snow and hockey.
Well, to be more to the point, perhaps Beverly isn't quite as gung-ho about the cold and snow, but she does love her hockey. It's for that reason a trip to Columbus with her husband in February to search for a possible second home was not spent without taking in an Ohio State hockey game on the side.
His mother might not enjoy the cold as much, but the same cannot be said for Aram.
"He's going to need to find a roommate that enjoys the cold," Beverly said of his son's upcoming stay on the Ohio State campus this fall, "because he likes his room nice and cold."
The Olson family went to Columbus during the 2005 season for an unofficial visit. They watched an Ohio State football game, although to that point Ohio State had not offered a scholarship or shown an incredible amount of interest in Olson.
But when Aram left, he knew if Ohio State came calling, he would be incredibly tempted.
"I remember he was even more excited about Ohio State when we left, but we really weren't sure where it was going to go and we knew we had to look at some other places," recalled his mother. "At that time we had scholarship offers from some really good schools."
Still, the family focused their attention on some of the other schools that were recruiting Olson, such as Florida State, Auburn and Alabama.
The visit occurred shortly after a surprise call came from Dick Tressel of Ohio State one evening.
"Sometime during the season I got a call from Doc Tressel, and it was a real surprise," Olson remembers. "I mean they had seen my film and everything, but I didn't expect it."
This is where history won't necessarily see eye to eye with the real truth.
"It was like from that moment on," he added, "it was unbelievable to think that the national champions wanted me to play for them. That's really when I started thinking, ‘This is a place that I could play ball.' "
But in reality, it was Olson's first exposure to Ohio State in 2002 that piqued his interest.
"I have thought about Ohio State ever since then," Olson noted.
It was January, and the Olson family had set their first visit to Ohio State on Jan. 6-8. The tentative plan was to take the trip to Columbus, then follow it up with visits to Auburn, Alabama and Florida State.
But soon after the official visit to Ohio State, things changed in a hurry.
"We just happened to go to Ohio State first and everything about it was incredible – the people mainly between the coaches and the staff," Beverly Olson said. "As soon as the plane landed in Columbia from Columbus, Aram knew where he wanted to go."
So instead of taking all their visits, the family decided to take one more visit just to be sure.
It ended up that Auburn was the school they picked to stack up the Ohio State visit against.
"Aram said, ‘This has got to be it. This is where I want to go and I can't imagine anything coming close to this,' " Beverly said of her son's reaction following the Ohio State visit. "But we knew this was his first official visit, and he could possibly, and we could possibly have similar impressions at some of the other places, so we had to have some other place to compare it to."
The following weekend, the Olson family took a visit to Auburn, and things remained the same.
"He was still convinced he wanted to go to Ohio State," Mrs. Olson explained.
Olson actually informed Ohio State he wanted to go there shortly after returning from Columbus, but they reaffirmed his intentions after returning from Auburn.
Less than a week later, they set up a date to announce his decision publicly, and were surprised by a visit from Jim and Doc Tressel.
"He had visited some pretty good schools unofficially and just the game day atmosphere, the people and the staff and everybody we met – everything about it was quite a first impression," Beverly said of their first experience at Ohio State. "But on our official visit, after we left, we all had our thoughts but after we got to talking we all felt the same about it."
Ohio State's fullback plan was enticed by Tressel the man.
"The main thing that convinced me it was right was when we were at our visit, and we sat down with Jim Tressel and we asked him what he was all about," Olson remembered, "and it was what pretty much what he had to say was what convinced me to come there."
Although the family kept those words private, Tressel's answer to their questions single-handedly closed the deal.
"It was the things that the coach, Jim Tressel, told us when we had a chance to sit down with him one-one-one that sold us on Ohio State," Mrs. Olson concluded.
The fullback plan had been executed, and the Buckeyes had landed the fullback of their future.
Olson's future tasks include being the lead blocker for Scout.com's No. 1 running back, Chris Wells of Akron (Ohio) Garfield.
"They talked about Aram setting the table for Chris Wells," Olson's father Bruce told Bucknuts.com in late January. "They said, ‘That's why we're after him. We got the No. 1 running back in the country and now we want the No. 1 fullback.' "
Olson's coach believes Ohio State will have that mission accomplished.
"We used him primarily as a blocking back. We had one tailback with 1,600 yards and a second guy with 800," said Irmo head coach Bob Hanna. "Aram had close to 400 yards. He is a good H-back and a great fullback. He opened up a lot of things for our tailbacks."
Olson, a four-year letterman, had 342 yards on 52 carries as a senior. He was also strong off the field with a stellar 4.0 GPA.
For the Olsons, Ohio State's fullback plan became possible four years prior with a national championship team watched by a teenager hundreds of miles away.
So as the family searches for a condominium in the Columbus area to stay for parts of the year and watch Aram play for Ohio State, they can cherish the words of Tressel and trust that their plan was actually God's master plan as well, for a family that puts high importance on their religious beliefs.
And maybe that plan was more than just the work of Jim Tressel or Ohio State.
"Everybody goes through the recruiting process only once, and a lot of kids don't even get to do that," he proudly surmised. "But when you do, usually there's one particular school that gives you that feeling, and for me, it was Ohio State that gave me that feeling."