Keith Olson finally got the call he had been waiting and working years for. Oregon State football offered the Napavine High School junior a scholarship on Thursday, Sept. 24.
Olson, who also received interest from Washington State and Eastern Washington, has always considered Oregon State his dream school — and for good reason. His dad, Kurt Olson, was a linebacker for the Beavers from 1991-95.
“Getting an offer from OSU is amazing,” Olson said. “I have been an Oregon State football fan since birth. We have always tried to get to at least one home Beavers game each season. The thought of actually playing in Reser Stadium is almost unreal. I love Corvallis.”
The 6-foot-6, 300-pound lineman is rated a 3-star offensive tackle prospect by 247 Sports. He is the 24th-ranked prospect in the state for the 2022 class, and the 83rd ranked offensive tackle in the nation for his class.
Olson wasted no time making his mark at Napavine, where he is a three-sport standout. Olson earned the starting left tackle spot for the Tigers as a freshman, then went on to place second in the shot put that spring at the Class 2B state track and field championships.
By his sophomore year he was bulldozing his way as a starter on both the offensive and defensive lines. For the Tigers’ basketball team, he started in the post while averaging 16.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game this past winter.
His accolades in pads and a helmet, however, go on and on.
Olson collected Associated Press first-team all-state honors on both the offensive and defensive lines for the 2019-20 season. He was named the 2B State Underclassmen of the Year by Cascadia Preps, a website that covers high school football in Washington. If that wasn’t enough, he was also a first-team Southwest Washington 2B League Mountain Division offensive and defensive lineman. He helped the Tigers (10-2) notch their sixth-consecutive 2B state semifinal appearance last winter.
“I like playing O-line,” said Olson, who is most effective at run blocking. “I like playing defense, too, but o-line is my favorite.”
Ryland Spencer, owner and analyst of Cascadia Preps, remembers the first time he saw Olson play as a freshman against Wahkiakum, Liberty (Spangle) and Onalaska. He said it was obvious from the get-go that Olson was primed to be a big-time player.
“I’ve watched a lot of film on Keith over the last two years and it seems like he gets better each game, which is obviously incredibly encouraging,” said Spencer, who is one of the state’s leading high school football analysts. “We named him our 2B Underclassman of the Year last season and I truly believe he is a candidate for 2B Player of the Year this coming season.”
Despite the WIAA postponing the fall football season to spring 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Olson has not been idle this offseason. He’s already attended three football camps this summer and plans to participate in at least one more.
All three were combines, where athletes are timed and measured in a variety of drills, such as the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump and bench pressing. Camps normally include one-on-one contests, but this year those drills have been restricted due to the pandemic.
He competed in the ESPN Under Armour Elite Underclassmen camp and the Best Coast Showcase camp, both in Las Vegas a couple months back, where athletes worked in pods of 12, wore masks and used the 6-foot social distancing guideline.
On July 17, he competed in the 247Sports’ MVP Showcase in Eugene, Oregon, with football players from around the Pacific Northwest. Olson tied for the furthest powerball toss among all lineman with a throw of 42 feet. He popped off the sixth-best broad jump with a leap of 8 feet, 10 inches.
“I”m trying to get to all that I can,” Olson said. “It’s great seeing what other states have. Athletic-wise, I think I’m near everybody. I don’t think I’m blown out of the water or anything.”
He hasn’t only relied on camps to stay sharp and in shape this summer either. He recently joined a training squad at the Ford Sports Performance Center in Bellevue on Fridays and Saturdays. He had to try out for the team and earn a roster spot in the linemen passing league that features five-on-five contests where the team travels to competitions.
He also plans to attend the Ford Sports Performance All-Star Weekend I.D. Camp from Oct. 2-4, where 112 elite players from Washington and Oregon will go head-to-head.
“The FSP one is probably the biggest one I will have gone to,” Olson said.
The camp will offer positional meetings, three practices and a simulated scrimmage. The camp was created to help high school football players from Washington earn scholarships after having their fall season postponed until spring, which puts them at a disadvantage recruiting-wise.
The official invitation states: “Due to COVID-19, high school football players in Washington and Oregon have been denied opportunities to showcase their ability for coaches at the next level, and are now faced with the uncertainty of having a 2020-21 football season, leaving athletes no opportunity to get noticed by college coaches.”
But Spencer said recruiting won’t be a problem for Olson, who has two full seasons of high school ball left and will only continue to improve his recruiting stock. In fact, Spencer said, Olson’s biggest dilemma might be choosing where to go.
“Obviously, with his dad being a former Beaver, the thought is he’s a shoe-in for Oregon State,” Spencer said. “I am not sure if that will end up being the case or not, as I think he will garner a lot more interest over the next couple years.”