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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 03 2013

Bison middle linebacker Olson to play in title game after health scare

FRISCO, Texas – The Toughness Scale is getting pushed to new levels this week when it comes to North Dakota State linebacker Grant Olson. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being Dick Butkus-like, defensive coordinator Chris Klieman puts Olson at 15, 16 or 17.

“Somewhere in there,” he said.

Quarterback Brock Jensen says at least a 10. Head coach Craig Bohl says 10 or more. Whatever number you want to put on it, the Bison junior is slated to start Saturday in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game – on the same week he was hospitalized with an issue with his appendix.

“I’m on the mend and I’ll be alright,” Olson said.

He practiced in pads Thursday for the first time. It was just two days prior when teammates were thinking Olson was slated for an appendectomy and would miss the game. Olson’s own account of the ordeal started with a trip to a walk-in clinic on Sunday, where he received some antibiotics to address the pain.

He returned to the hospital the following day, as scheduled, to get a CT scan. The radiologist who performed the procedure came out to the lobby where Olson was waiting and told him a surgeon was called and he needed to get to the emergency room immediately.

“I called the coaches real quick to let them know what was happening, and then I met with the surgeon,” Olson said. “He said I have a swollen appendix and we might need to take this out.”

But because Olson was already feeling better from the walk-in clinic antibiotics, he said doctors decided against surgery.

“I’m very thankful for that,” Olson said.

He said one of the doctors believes the problem is a combination of a few factors that included a strained groin injury from the Georgia Southern semifinal game and the flu.

“The whole combination didn’t feel very good for a couple of days,” Olson said.

He lost some weight from the hospital food, he said. But he also said head strength and condition coach Jim Kramer was not concerned.

A player, who as a captain is used to being a leader, he said he was appreciative of all the support he got from others. Many of his 869 followers on his Twitter account sent him messages as well as fans sending him Facebook well-wishes.

“They were telling me I was in their thoughts and prayers, and that meant the world to me,” Olson said. “I did quite a bit of praying myself, and I believe that helped. I know it did. I’m just very thankful just to be on the plane and be down here.”

Klieman said Olson looked fine at practice Thursday, saying he moved around well and was mentally sharp with his assignments. Even if he wasn’t at 100 percent, it still was meaningful to other players.

“He’s been through a lot this past week,” Jensen said. “For him to go through everything and tough it out, to play in this game and give it all for us and his teammates says lot about him as a person.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia