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(STATS) - Setting the University of Montana's single-season record for tackles was so much fun for linebacker Dante Olson in 2018 that he decided to do it again this season.
There's quite a bit of cyborg in the tackle machine, who as a redshirt senior totaled an FCS-high and Big Sky Conference single-season record 179 stops while helping the Grizzlies get back to the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2015. The third-place finisher in the 2018 Buck Buchanan Award voting is in the running again for national defensive player of the year.
Highly decorated off the field, Olson's best work may be his pen-pal mentorship with a class of underprivileged grade-school students in Northern California farm country. That's saying something considering his many academic accolades and on-the-field exploits, which includes an incredible 330 of his school-record 393 career tackles over his final two seasons. The two-time first-team All-American reached double figures in nine of 11 games in 2018 and made it there 10 more times in 14 games in 2019, when he also had 11 tackles for loss, 3½ sacks, two takeaways and two forced fumbles.
"He's just a humble guy that works his tail off. He wants to be good, and he's not satisfied unless he improves," Montana coach Bobby Hauck said. "Then personally, he's just a wonderful guy to be around. He's good, not just at football, he's a good person. He's a great guy."
Olson, who grew up in a football family - his father Jeff was the former head coach at Southern Oregon University for nine years - returned to his home state in September to take on the Oregon Ducks. All the 6-foot-3, 240-pound standout did was make impressive tackles in the open field while racking up a game-high 14 stops, including 10 solos.
The 25th Buchanan Award winner will be announced at the STATS national awards banquet on Jan. 10 in Frisco, Texas. Also up for the award are defensive ends Ron'Dell Carter of James Madison and Sully Laiche of Nicholls.