Mission Statement

Ben Olson was all set to be BYU's next great QB. Then his faith inspired him to call an audible.

Originally Published: December 8, 2003
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN The Magazine

Just the other day, the best college quarterback you've never seen knocked on a door in the tiny coal mining town of Sparwood, British Columbia, and cheerfully told the lady of the house he'd like to share a message that would bring her closer to God. That's when the man of the house appeared in the doorway and announced, "I'll bring you closer to God -- I'm gonna shoot you!"

Elder Ben Olson, 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, didn't budge. "Dang," he said, "that's not very nice."

The best college quarterback you've never seen is 20 years old, doesn't watch TV, doesn't read newspapers or magazines, and doesn't listen to music, unless, of course, it's the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's toe-tapping rendition of "O Divine Redeemer." He doesn't drink, smoke or swear. And don't bother asking him if he's ever had sex. In fact, don't bother asking him about much of anything.

You: "So, have you followed the season?"

Olson: "Not much. How's Clarett playing?"

Time was, only Maurice Clarett was as coveted a recruit as Olson, a 2001 Parade All-America who threw for nearly 6,000 yards in two seasons at Thousand Oaks (Calif.) High, and capped his prep career by completing 10 of 11 passes against a team of Florida all-stars. Olson received dozens of offers to play at places like Oklahoma, USC, Michigan and Florida. He chose BYU -- but not just for football.