KENNESAW, Georgia – All buildings that have stood the test of time have benefited structurally from a solid foundation.
For the Kennesaw State offense, the foundation sits at its center. Matt Olson serves as the foundation for his offensive line and a program that prides himself on lineman play, the foundation of his offense.
Coincidentally, Olson knows a thing or two about building. With a degree in civil engineering in his pocket and courses started for a master’s degree in the same field, his aspiration beyond the movement of defensive lineman is to become a structural engineer.
A structural engineer who plays college football?
According to Strucutralengineeringbasics.com, “Structural engineering is a branch of civil engineering that involves the application of the laws of physics, mathematics, and empirical knowledge to safely design the ‘bones’ and load bearing members of man-made structures. Modern structural engineering provides a large and detailed body of knowledge that can accurately predict the performance of different shapes and materials used in structures to resist loads and stresses on structures.The principles of structural engineering have been used there is thousands of years old during the construction of structures such as the pyramids in Egypt or the Acropolis in Greece.”
How was Olson able to pursue these two impressive feats, being a multi-year starter for a Division 1 program at a demanding position, and pursuing a degree and profession that is anything but simple?
It starts with its own foundation.
Olson comes from a family of footballers. His father, David, was a tight end at Illinois in the early 1990s and caught 52 passes and five touchdowns during a four-year career. His love of the game helped Matt sow the seeds to find his footing.
“He was an inspiration while playing at the collegiate level. Her success made me want to do it too,” Matt said. “He was always very supportive and pushed me to do my best.”
The family moved to Athens, Georgia when her mother, Becky, landed a job at the University of Georgia in early childhood education. They then moved to Cumming where Olson was a two-time All-Region winner and two-time Offensive MVP for Forsyth Central High School.
After enrolling at KSU, he was thrust into action as a true freshman when he started the 2018 season opener at Georgia State.
“Honestly, it was a bit of a blur. The shift from high school to college. I remember running out of the tunnel,” Olson recounted. “In the first practice we broke up a long run on the edge. It was cool because then I could see all the hard work in camp paying off.”
This preparatory work led to more time in the field. After making four starts between the 2019 and 2021 spring campaigns, he was a Swiss army knife of an offensive lineman, playing all three positions spread over 700 snaps en route to KSU’s 2021 Big South title. He balanced it all with an arduous curriculum. His senior capstone project proved to be the most difficult of his undergraduate courses.
“We had to design a site layout in Utah and build a two-story office building to go there. There were a lot of little things you didn’t know about it until you got into it. “, did he declare.
This included the design of land grading, a road, parking lot and structural aspects of the building.
“It was pretty tough and it took a lot of work,” Olson said.
To the surprise of no one around the KSU football program, Olson earned an A in class.
With the flagship project behind him, he was looking to cap his career on a high note. Olson was so dedicated to off-season training that his work earned him the coveted “Iron Owl” award.
“The ‘Iron Owl’ award is given annually to the person who best personifies what Kennesaw State football represents in the coaching environment, EAT We give the award to the person who shows up every day and do your best effortnever back down from a challenge, tracks their teammates by example, and show respect for the training environment and the coaching staff,” said the Deputy DA for Sport Performance and Director of Strength and Conditioning Football. Jim Kiritsy. “The prize doesn’t always go to the fastest or the strongest, it goes to the person who uplifts others while being a shining beacon of effort, attitude and tenacity.
“Matt brings that every day. Season, off season, healthy or injured, you know Matt will always do his best and expect others to do the same,” Kiritsy said. “His progress in the weight room over five years has been incredible to watch, and he hasn’t shied away from presenting the award in 2022.”
Just when all the momentum seemed to be in favor of the 6’3″, 285 pounds, a delay in the construction project occurred. Olson was injured in preseason camp and missed the first two matches.
“It hurt my momentum that I built. Getting this award helped me regain my confidence and reminded me of all the hard work I had put in,” he said . “It was really difficult to sit down and watch, especially the first away game sitting at home and watching it on TV, which I had never done.”
He returned to form the anchor of KSU’s offensive line from the center position, and now combines his math smarts on the gridiron.
“It helps me identify the fronts, know my rules and know what everyone has to do. It helps me see the bigger picture,” he said.
What’s left for Olson to complete his latest senior project on the football field?
“At first I was a rotation guy. Last year I became a real starter,” he said. “This year I want to put an exclamation mark on my career and prove myself to everyone.”
If the goal is to prove yourself, by Matt Olson career is structurally sound.