Olson has indicated that staying close to home, how much he likes the UCLA coaching staff and the possibility of early playing time were the biggest factors in his decision.
Olson was the #1 quarterback prospect in the nation coming out of high school in 2002, and considered by many as the overall #1 prospect. He commmitted to BYU and went to Provo for a semester, where he redshirted.
In January of 2003 he went on his Mormon mission, to a small town in Alberta, Canada, where he spent 22 months, returning in early November of this year.
Being away from BYU for so long, Olson became a recruitable athlete, and there was much speculation about what Olson would do when he returned.
UCLA coaches, particularly Head Coach Karl Dorrell, kept in contact with the Olson family, and with Olson himself through e-mail. Olson said he followed some teams while on his mission.
|Olson at the 2001 Nike Camp.|
After considering many schools, such as Oregon, South Carolina (Steve Spurrier called Olson as soon as he got the SC head coaching job), Michigan and Miami, he decided to take official visits to Arizona State, UCLA and Cal. He then narrowed his list of choices down to those three, and then, last week, to just UCLA and Cal.
Olson is considered such a great prospect because he's not only a great athlete but also highly intelligent. He's very big, but also quick, running a 4.6 40 at the Nike Camp while in high school. A lefty, he has a very strong arm, and throws a very accurate ball. His smarts give him an advantage in learning complicated, NFL-type offenses, like the West Coast Offense that UCLA runs. He threw for 2,907 yards and 30 touchdowns his senior year in high school. Also, now being 21 years old, it's believed the added maturity will also be a significant benefit.
Olson will be a redshirt freshman at UCLA next fall. He'll enroll in Winter quarter and participate in spring practice.
Karl Dorrell getting Olson is a significant step in the development of his program, in many aspects. It provides Dorrell the elite talent he needs at the quarterback position, with Olson probably having a shot at the starting position next year competing with Drew Olson (who Ben knows well from high school). It was critical to the quarterback position after next season, when UCLA could profject having just two young scholarship quarterbacks that are considered projects on the roster, and walk-ons. It gives Dorrell a big recruiting victory, and also some considerable exposure and attention from the entire college football community in signing Olson.