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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

OC | 2021 Notre Dame TE Target Erik Olsen Possesses High Ceiling

June 15, 2020

When Erik Olsen‍ arrived at Heritage High School in Littleton, Colo., a few years ago, the Eagles football staff thought it had its “franchise quarterback” for the future.

“Even as a freshman, he was the starting quarterback on an undefeated Freshman team,” Heritage offensive coordinator Brandon Stultz remembers.

But when a talented junior ended up winning the job in preseason camp before Olsen’s sophomore season, the coaches had to rework their plans.

“We knew he was so athletic and so gifted that we couldn’t keep him off the field,” says Stultz.

So, in August of 2018, Olsen moved to tight end.

“It was pretty apparent quickly when we moved him there that he was special,” Stultz recalls. “If you go back and look at his sophomore year highlights and his junior year highlights, you see the growth between the two seasons. It’s pretty incredible.

“He goes from a great athlete who flashes here and there as a sophomore to a junior who was just as dominant as anybody on the field by the end of the season.”

Olsen is a factor in both the passing game and the running game.

“I would say he is as physically gifted as any kid who I’ve coached regardless of the position,” says Stultz. “He’s physical not only as a ball-carrier after the catch, but he also can be physically dominant in the run game at the first level and the second level. It’s impressive to see that from a guy who is so big and really pretty young. A lot of guys don’t develop that until they’re older.”

Stultz feels “pretty blessed” for the opportunity to pair the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Olsen with 6-foot-5, 220-pound receiver/tight end Terrance Ferguson.

“We typically have them on opposite sides of the field and I think it’s a nightmare matchup for anyone,” says Stultz.

The OC also cites Olsen’s presence in the school and the locker room as having positive impacts.

“The one thing that’s incredible about him is he’s extremely confident, but there’s not an arrogance about him,” the coach says. “He’s tight with his teammates. I think he has a ton of respect in the locker room from those guys.

“I teach at the school. One of my good friends is a Biology teacher and he’s one of her favorite students ever. He’s just fantastic to be around, great attitude all of the time. You always know what you’re going to get from him. Super consistent.”

A standout athlete, Olsen is also an all-conference basketball player.

“He’s a versatile kid,” says Stultz. “I honestly can’t tell you how fun it’s been watching him get better as a player. You kind of always thought it was going to happen and once it started to break at the tight end position, it got really fun to pull back and watch him.”

The coach is convinced Olsen has a high ceiling both because he’s only played the position for a couple years and because of his work ethic.

“I think Erik has a really bright future,” says Stultz. “I think he was frustrated when other tight ends in his class who he felt he compared to were getting early offers and he wasn’t.

“I was really proud of him because that didn’t deter him. It made him work harder. It made him seek out help, extra coaching, taking on extra workouts, just trying to play catch-up to some extent.”

That work has paid off as Olsen’s scholarship list has grown steadily since the end of his junior season, adding offers from schools like Stanford, UCLA, Cal, Washington, Auburn, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Arizona State, Arkansas and, most recently, Notre Dame.

“He’s going to develop a ton,” Stultz continues. “Honestly, that’s why you see big names like Notre Dame and Stanford, who have been rich in tight ends over the last decade, coming into the game knowing, ‘This kid is just scratching the surface of what he’s capable of doing.’”

The Notre Dame offer certainly made a serious impact and caused Olsen to hold up his plans to announce his Top 5. He eventually announced a Top 6 which included the Irish, Stanford, UCLA, Colorado, Washington and Nebraska.

Stultz reached out to Notre Dame over the winter, but wanted to make sure it was a school Olsen would still be interested in before he did so.

“He said, ‘Absolutely. It’s Tight End University,’” Stultz recalls. “‘I’d be super excited to have an opportunity there.’ It’s definitely something that intrigues him.”

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