Kansas Pregame polled 8-Man coaches earlier this month who voted for the top four seniors they coached against this season. Kansas Pregame staffers then used those votes to develop a Top 8 list of seniors for each division. Kansas Pregame will provide features for each of the 16 Top 8 selections. Check out the 16th of those profiles below:
Olin Brown, OL/RB/LB, 5-9, 190, Thunder Ridge, 8-Man Division II
Thunder Ridge senior Olin Brown put his ability to do just about anything on the football field on full display in 2021. The 5-9, 190 pound fireplug was a dominant linebacker, a near impossible offensive lineman to get past, and even carried the ball himself on a regular basis.
“I believe my biggest strength on the football field was comprehending, understanding and executing my job as a football player,” Brown said.
The Longhorns had a near dream season with Brown leading the way, going 11-1 with their lone loss coming in the state semifinals to eventual champs, Axtell. Prior to that loss, each win for Thunder Ridge came by double-digits - barring a forfeit by Southern Cloud - and their lowest point total was 44.
“(Olin is) always willing to go the extra mile to try to make a tackle or to finish off a block, running through a tackler, and even on special teams he was typically one of the first guys down on kick-off and played our front wall on kickoff return and always made his block,” said head coach Joel Struckhoff.
As a linebacker, Brown was a machine, tallying 127 tackles, 19 tackles-for-loss, a sack, three hurries, two interceptions, four pass deflections, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
“I think what made him such a great tackler is just a consistent pursuit to the football, great form tackling, and his reads were off the charts,” Struckhoff said. “He watched films and could see what the teams were going to do and would know what was coming just by film study.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Brown started the season on the line, and by season’s end, the Thunder Ridge forward wall had blocked for 1,042 passing yards and 3,156 rushing yards. He was second on the team with 36 pancake blocks, but also managed to earn 477 of those rushing yards, along with 19 touchdowns, himself, after taking on ball carrier duties in Week 5.
“Olin did everything for us,” Struckhoff said. “At guard he stayed on blocks and knew what angle to take to seal his blocks or when we doubled up to the second level he would know exactly when he needed to let off the double and get to the second level. At running back he was a very physical runner that had extremely good balance, most of his runs this year he made multiple people either miss or ran them over.”
Brown’s ability to take on whatever role necessary made him vital for Thunder Ridge during their 2021 run. Some of his abilities weren’t even fully developed given the multitude of on field duties.
“One of the things that many people wouldn't think is that he actually was one of our best pass catchers as well,” Struckhoff said. “We didn't use him alot in the pass game, but when we did he made the most of it and hardly ever dropped a pass, if any, this year.”
Brown is currently undecided on his post-graduation plans, but if his traits on the field transfer to off field activity, he should be just fine in whatever path he follows.
“One of the best practice players I've had coaching,” Struckhoff said. “He always showed up to practice ready to put the work in and listened to coaching. He was always wanting to get better and make his teammates around him better which will be the last thing that I say that made Olin a great football player. He was a great leader, other teammates looked up to him and respected him and he put on a great display of what it takes to be good at football, always working hard and going the extra mile, listening to coaches, and just overall a love for the game.”
*Editor's Note: Kansas Pregame has opted to include only seniors in our Top 8 list in an effort to reward them for their success in high school. This year, especially in Division II, there were a number of top players who were juniors. Axtell's Isaac Detweiler, Wheatland-Grinnell's Jett Vincent and Thunder Ridge's Dylan Bice are just a few of those likely among the Top 8 players in the classification. Fortunately, multiple other outlets have recognized those athletes for their contributions this season and Kansas Pregame will consider each of them for feature coverage in our 2022 Football Preview along with the many other top returning players from across the state.