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Joe Olson

Bozeman's Joe Olson runs the ball in a game against Billings Senior during the 2017 season.

BILLINGS — Joe Olson has some specific aversions when it comes to carrying the football.

“The way I run, I don’t like giving up or being on the ground,” Olson said. “I feel like that helps me thrive.”

That mentality has gotten Olson this far already — into a prominent and productive role on the Bozeman High School team. On Thursday, Olson took another step when he verbally committed to play for his hometown university, Montana State.

“Excited to announce that I am going to continue my football and academic career in my home town of BOZEMAN MT at Montana State University,” Olson posted to his Twitter account.

That declaration came not long after Olson met with Bobcats coach Jeff Choate, during which time he gave his verbal guarantee to the Bobcats.

Olson is the fourth player to commit to MSU’s 2019 recruiting class, joining Bozeman teammate and tight end Ryan Lonergan, Helena High offensive lineman Holden Sampson and San Diego, California, tight end/defensive lineman Blake Schmidt.

Olson said he was also being recruited by Montana, MSU’s rival to the west, as well as Montana Western of the Frontier Conference.

Montana State was his clear choice.

“I always grew up watching the Bobcats,” Olson said in a phone interview with 406mtsports.com. “They’ve been a big part of my life growing up. And once I got into the recruiting process I could see that they’re going in the right direction.”

A day after releasing some troubling news about quarterback Chris Murray — MSU’s incumbent starter must sit out the 2018 season due to academic problems — Olson’s pledge gave the Bobcats reason to feel better.

Olson said Montana State’s plan is to utilize his talents at running back. Olson also plays linebacker for the Hawks.

“It’s not really my call to make, but I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re thinking,” Olson said. “I’ll play anywhere, but I’m excited.

“It’s just a fun position to play. You get to score touchdowns, and I even really like blocking at running back. I think that’s so fun. I really like being a part of the offense.”

Bozeman football coach Levi Wesche said Montana State ratcheted up its recruitment of Olson during the spring. Olson said he was courted recruiting-wise by MSU special teams coach and director of high school relations B.J. Robertson.

Olson "went to their individual camp and then at the team camp they got to see a little bit more of what he can do,” Wesche said. “Coach Choate came to a lot of our games last year because his son (Jory) was playing, so I think he had a good idea of what Joe is capable of.”

Wesche said Olson played running back in only five games last season as a junior for the Hawks, a move that was made when starter Jack Tetrault was injured. Still, Olson rushed for 780 yards and scored 10 total touchdowns.

Defensively, Olson made 54 tackles, including six for loss.

Olson competes in track and field at Bozeman High, and also excels as a Big Mountain skier during the winter months. But football is his true love, and he now has the opportunity to play at the next level.

Wesche believes the Bobcats are getting a versatile talent.

"I think he can be an asset anywhere,” Wesche said of Olson. “For us he's excellent on both sides of the ball, but I really love him as a running back. He breaks a lot of tackles, he's got speed to finish runs and great lower-body strength."

“I just want to go in there and be the best player I can be,” Olson said. “I just want to win.”

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Email Greg Rachac at greg.rachac@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @gregrachac

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