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USU football: Merlin Olsen to be honored as a Hometown Hall of Famer

Merlin Olsen gets in his football stance.
Merlin Olsen gets in his football stance.
USU Athletic Media Relations

The Pro Football Hall of Fame and Ford Motor Company are bringing the “Hometown Hall of Famer” program to Logan High School on Thursday, Sept. 21, to honor Utah State legend, Merlin Olsen.

Hometown Hall of Famer is a national program that honors the hometown roots of the greatest heroes of the game. Friends, family and fans of Olsen are invited to attend as Logan HS becomes the 112th high school to become an “Official High School” of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

There will be a special ceremony recognizing Olsen for his significant accomplishments, including the presentation of a bronze plaque. The event is scheduled to take place from 9-10:30 a.m., at Logan HS.

Olsen was a three-year letterman on the offensive and defensive lines for the Aggies from 1959-61, earning All-American honors during his junior and senior seasons.

As a senior in 1961, Olsen won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s outstanding interior defensive lineman. He also was a three-time academic All-American at Utah State and graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Kappa Phi in 1962 with a degree in finance.

During his senior season, Olsen anchored an Aggie defense that yielded an average of 50.8 rushing yards per game to lead the nation. USU also allowed 88.6 passing yards and 139.4 total yards per game in 1961, and all three of those averages still rank as the best single-season efforts in school history.

The 1961 Aggie defense gave up an average of 7.8 points a game, which is second in school history behind Olsen’s 1960 team, which allowed 6.5 points per game. Additionally, the Aggie defense held four opponents to less than 100 total yards that season, including Idaho, which was held to a school-record 23 total yards in the Aggies’ 69-0 victory on Oct. 28.

During Olsen’s junior and senior seasons, Utah State had a combined 18-3-1 record under head coach John Ralston and was Skyline Conference co-champions each year as Utah State played in back-to-back bowl games against New Mexico State (Sun Bowl, 1960) and Baylor (Gotham Bowl, 1961).

The Aggies finished the 1961 season ranked 10th in the Associated Press and United Press International polls, the highest-ever final ranking for a USU team.

Olsen is a member of the State of Utah’s Sports Hall of Fame, the Utah State University Athletics Hall of Fame and USU’s All-Century Football Team. In 2000, he was selected by Sports Illustrated as one of Utah’s Top-50 Athletes of the Century.

Following his collegiate career, Olsen was the third overall pick in the 1962 NFL Draft and became a charter member of the Los Angeles Rams and the famed “Fearsome Foursome.” In 15 professional seasons, he was named to an NFL record 14 Pro Bowls and missed a total of two games during his career. Along with earning All-Pro honors nine times during his career, Olsen was named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1962 and the league’s Most Valuable Lineman in 1973.

Olsen, who retired from professional football in 1976, was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982, and in 1999, he was ranked No. 25 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. He was voted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980 and to the All-Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 1988.

In 2008, Olsen was named to the 75th Anniversary All-Sun Bowl Team to commemorate the Sun Bowl Association's Diamond Anniversary.

About the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Located in Canton, Ohio, the birthplace of the NFL, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit institution with the mission to honor the heroes of the game, preserve its history, promote its values and celebrate excellence everywhere.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame chronicles America’s most popular sport. Hundreds of thousands of fans from across the globe travel to Canton annually to experience “The Most Inspiring Place on Earth.” Millions more are reached through special events sponsored by the Hall of Fame outside of Canton, including multiple nationally-broadcast programs focused on the selection of the newest class of enshrinees.

The existing campus of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is currently being transformed through the construction of Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village, a $700 million development project.