Former USC long snapper Jake Olson thanked Clay Helton for allowing him to go onto the field as a blind player and snap the ball during a game on a tweet Monday, the same day the coach was dismissed.
Olson caught the attention of the national college football audience in 2017 when he delivered a flawless snap for USC on a point-after attempt. Olson lost his left eye to a rare form of retinal cancer when he was 10 months old, and he completely lost his eyesight in 2009 when he was 12 years old. He has been around USC’s program since Pete Carroll was the head coach of the Trojans.
He snapped for his high school team in Orange County, California, walking to the line with his hands on his teammates before taking care of his job. After enrolling at USC, he joined the Trojans in practice in 2015 on a special scholarship, repeatedly delivering strong snaps in workouts.
It was under Helton when he got the chance to play.
Olson tweeted Monday he was excited for the future but thanked Helton for allowing him to step onto the field.
“Sometimes change is necessary and in this case it absolutely was and I’m hopeful and excited for what the future holds to get SC back to glory! I also want to pay respects to a man who truly loved SC and who I know gave 110% every day he worked there. Now let’s all Fight On!” he tweeted.
“I also want to thank Helton for fielding the first completely blind college football player. He didn’t listen to those who said I didn’t belong on the field but saw me as just another one of his players who had to prove my worth through my football ability not my physical ability.”
USC fired Helton two games into the 2021 season.
He was 46-24 as the Trojans’ head coach.