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2012 Football Recruiting Capsules: Eric Olson

by Chris Johnson (@chrisdjohnsonn)

Hometown: Sudbury, Massachusetts

Position: Offensive Tackle

Star rating: three-star, No. 56 OT

Ht/Wt: 6-6, 285 pounds

Other offers: Duke, UMass, Boston College, Michigan, Wake Forest, Virginia, UConn

What’s to like

Before making his commitment, Adam DePietro – a four-star guard who had decided on a top three of NU, Wisconsin and Michigan State – contacted Olson through Facebook. Like DePietro, Olson was weighing several offers, though none more seriously than Michigan, which he visited and thoroughly enjoyed. The two highly-touted linemen put aside other offers, came to their senses and made a joint commitment last June. Olson was a three-year letter winner at Buckingham Browne & Nichols, where he also earned all-conference honors in basketball and reached the 1,000-point club. His prowess on the basketball court points to strong athletic ability and footwork, not to mention good hand-eye-coordination and overall body control.

These are some of the traits used by scouts to describe Olson’s skill set. He has the size, strength and athleticism to play tackle at the next level. Equally adept in run and pass blocking, Olson is a versatile blocker capable of thwarting a wide range of disparate pass rushers. He stonewalls bull rushers, adjusts to speed moves and uses great technique against spins and arm rips. Olson is a refined blocker with great size at 6-6, 285 pounds. While DePietro was the offensive headliner in the 2012 class, Olson may have a brighter future along NU’s line. He offers an ideal skills-to-size ratio for such a premium position, not to mention a strong work ethic to fine-tune his game. If he develops as expected, Olson has All-conference potential.

Prospects for next season

It may have seemed premature to expect Olson to contend for playing time right away. Yet he’s gotten reps with the first-team offense in preseason and is making a strong push to challenge Jack Konopka and Chuck Porcelli at right tackle. He probably won’t win the starting job outright, but Olson could make the two-deep at either tackle spot, especially if he outperforms his competition in camp. The other option is a redshirt year, which would afford Olson the opportunity to mature physically while learning under Konopka, Porcelli and the other veteran tackles. Yet with the way he’s arrived at camp – big, strong, athletic, advanced in his development as both a run and pass blocker – Olson may leave Fitzgerald with a tough decision. He appears ready to take the field this season. After a redshirt year, Olson would likely play a more significant role next season. But if he can help provide stability in a thin OL rotation this season, Olson should forego the redshirt.

If Olson continues to exceed expectations, the cost-benefit analyses behind Fitzgerald’s choice will be fascinating to observe. Juggling the immediate returns on Olson’s production this season against the long-term benefits of a developmental redshirt year is a perplexing endeavor. It’s a choice Fitzgerald, with a full training camp to observe Olson’s progression, will be forced to make and an extremely difficult one at that. Whether Olson plays this season will ultimately come down to how he finishes preseason camp. From the looks of it, he has a decent chance to suit up for the Wildcats’ season-opener on Sept. 1 at Syracuse. But a more conclusive evaluation must be put off until the end of training camp.

What he’s saying

“They have a 100 graduation rate, unbelievable academic support, tons of awards for academics,” Olson told PurpleWildcats.Com after visiting NU last May. “The networking is phenomenal. Being in Chicago is great. They play in the Big Ten and consistently compete. With coach Fitz’s new contract, they’re on the rise.”

What they’re saying

“Olson displays the explosion and playing strength necessary to dominate as a run blocker against his present level of opposition. Has the size and athleticism for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition."--ESPN recruiting scouts analysis.

Check out PurpleWildcats.Com and Fox Sports Next/Scout.Com for the latest in Northwestern recruiting. For more on Olson, check out his profile on Scout.Com.