Charlotte 49ers head coach Brad Lambert made the biggest offseason splash of his tenure, landing junior college quarterback Kevin Olsen on Wednesday evening. Olsen will enroll at UNC Charlotte in January for the spring semester and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
“Just like every position on the team, we want to create some competition at our quarterback position,” said Lambert.
“We want to get guys in here and let them compete. We’re going to see who the best guy is coming out of spring ball and heading into the summer.”
Olsen, a 6-foot-3 pro-style quarterback, played his high school ball at Wayne Hills in New Jersey. He compiled nearly 3,500 passing yards while tossing 40 touchdown passes and garnering serious attention from some of the most prestigious programs around the country.
Offers rolled in from the likes of Iowa, Florida State and North Carolina before Olsen ultimately committed to the Miami Hurricanes in May of 2012. He was listed as the fourth-best quarterback prospect in the nation by Scout.com and entered college as a four-star recruit according to ESPN.
“He’s got a very talented arm and can throw the ball extremely well,” said Lambert when asked about Olsen. “He’s a big strong guy who can throw it and that’s ultimately why we took him.”
Olsen’s athletic abilities are unquestioned, but his maturity has been heavily scrutinized over the years. While enrolled at Miami he was suspended three times for violating team rules. Olsen transferred from the program after failing a drug test and being charged with a DUI while in the possession of a fake driver’s license. After leaving South Beach Olsen joined the football team at Towson, but was dismissed yet again before ever taking a snap.
“We’re going to give him another opportunity and I just really believe he has a good support system in town,” said Lambert.
“I’ve met with his parents and we just feel like he’s ready to make that next move and take advantage of another opportunity. I feel good about where he is or obviously we wouldn’t have signed him. He has an opportunity to show people that he’s changed, evolve into a good quarterback and do some great things on and off the field.”
Olsen, the younger brother of Carolina Panthers’ tight end and Walter Peyton Man of the Year nominee Greg Olsen, spent the 2015 season at Riverside City College in California. He played in nine games and made five starts, helping lead the Tigers to an 8-3 overall record despite posting pedestrian numbers. Olsen completed 56 percent of his passes while barely eclipsing 1,000 yards. He threw 13 touchdown passes compared to 10 interceptions in his lone season at junior college.
The 49ers closed their first season of FBS football on a 10-game losing skid due in large part to the ineptitude displayed at the quarterback position. If Olsen can maintain his focus and regain the form that made him one of the most sought after gunslingers in the nation, Charlotte has the tools to compete with the top Conference USA programs in 2016.