Walter Camp Dinner Brings Out Cheers, Tears and More
By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
They came from all parts of the country. They are the best college football players in the country and they are Walter Camp All-Americans. It is America’s oldest All-American team originally founded by Camp in 1889. It was the 52nd annual dinner MC’d by ESPN’s own Kevin Negandhi with announcements by John Pierson of WTNH New Haven.
Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama was the Player Of The Year. The sensational sophomore appeared fresh despite a National Championship game loss to Clemson a few days earlier. “I would like to thank my family, the Alabama coaches, the Alabama doctors and I would like to thank the community of Hawaii for all they’ve done,” said a humbled Tagavailoaina room full of some 2,000 sports fans gathered on the campus of Yale University in New Haven Connecticut.
Former USC long snapper Jake Olson received a rousing ovation when introduced at the dinners opening. Olsen was on hand to accept the Walter Camp Perseverance Award. He was born with retinoblastoma which is a cancer of the retina. He was blind in one eye and had his right eye removed at the age of 12.
He received a scholarship to USC in 2015 from the Swim with Mike Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund.
In 2017 at the Los Angeles Coliseum Olson entered the game in the season opener against Western Michigan and snapped the ball on the final PAT. He did it again in a mid-season against Oregon State and also the 2018 opener vs. UNLV. Today he is a motivational speaker and has been the author of two books.
Olson stood at the podium holding up two fingers. “These two fingers not only stand for victory, but as a Trojan warrior with the two fingers to you can always fire a bow,” said Olson who received a rousing ovation.
A few moments after Olsen’s speech ESPN ‘s and Notre Dame Alum Mike Golic was at the same podium. “I always hated USC, “said Golic. Tonight Jake Olson gave me a reason to like them.”
Golic was in the house to receive the Walter Camp Man of the Year Award. The former 10th round draft pick spent nine years in the NFL with the Houston Oilers, Eagles and Dolphins. He went on to become part of the Mike and Mike Show for years one of the most popular daily talk shows.
Former Fremont high standout David Fulcher is president of the Walter Camp Alumni Association. They were celebrating the 1993 All-American team. In attendance from the ’93 squad were Stacy Seegars. Guard Antonio Langham from Clemson and DB David Palmer WR both from Alabama. “We are proud to welcome back this great group of people and athletes” said Fulcher.
Other members of the ’93 team from UCLA though not present included: J.J. Stokes WR, Bjorn Merten PK and LB Jimir Miller.
Golic summed up a lesson we all could learn from football saying, ”The game of football is a team game, when your in the huddle it doesn’t matter if your black, white or brown your all part of the same team,” said Golic.