Rio Sports Live

Weslaco High’s Olszak adds name to Texas Tech football team’s walk-on list

By BILLY WATSON
RSL

The Texas Tech Red Raiders kicked off spring football practices earlier this spring, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down, and former Weslaco High Panther Richard Olszak was part of the action.

In early March, he trotted out of the Tech locker room onto the outdoor turf practice field wearing No. 21.

Olszak found his name on the list of walk-ons for the Tech football team in mid-February and he was excited to make the team.

“It was awesome,” Olszak said. “It was a dream come true, honestly. I mean, it just felt good. I’ve put in a lot of work to get to this point, and just to see it pay off, it felt good.”

Olszak said he is looking to play cornerback for the Red Raiders and he’ll be coached by former Duke associate head coach and first-year Tech co-defensive coordinator Derek Jones.

Before his journey to making the Tech football team, Olszak started by signing his letter of intent to play football at Crown College in Minnesota during his senior year of high school in 2018.

Former Weslaco High grad Richard Olszak is now a walk-on at Texas Tech University. Courtesy photo

“Really, in my recruitment, I had no contact with any coaches,” he said. “One of my buddies was up there in Minnesota, so I kind of just contacted him, got in touch with the coaches up there, sent them my film, and they liked me. By the end of the year, I signed with them and went up there, initially as an outside receiver.”

Things did not go according to plan when Olszak got to Crown, as she saw limited or no playing time throughout the season. His career moment with the Storm came in the final game of the season against the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference champion Martin Luther College Knights when he ran an interception back for a 50-yard touchdown.

With only the pick-six, just three tackles and an 0-10 season behind him, Olszak decided things were not going the way he had wanted them to and decided to transfer to Texas Tech University. He made the move to West Texas in the spring of 2019. The recent “walk-on history” at Tech is also what got Olszak’s attention.

“They have a lot of walk-ons throughout the years, especially a lot (of walk-ons) that make it out to the NFL, like Danny Amendola and Wes Welker,” he said. “It just seemed like a good fit. I knew I wasn’t automatically going to walk on. That was the initial goal, just make it the first time. It’s a good school, credibility and academics-wise; so I definitely want to graduate from here.”

Initially, Olszak did not make the team at the first walk-on tryout he attended. That did not stop him from trying to achieve his dream. Olszak worked out intensely, put on more muscle, worked on agility drills and did more to improve from the first tryout.

“I was a little bit discouraged, but I just kept pushing,” he said. “I kind of figured out what I needed to work on, took notes from the previous tryouts and what I thought they were going to be testing us on.”

Olszak improved so much that he got offers from other junior colleges, such as Salt River (AZ) and Moorpark (CA) colleges. From there, he continued to work on his game in preparation for his second attempt for walk-on tryouts.

“So, I really just worked on my strength, putting on size, I put on about 30, 35 pounds of just extra weight. I worked on my speed a lot, my quickness, my hip flexibility… I just took all that into account and kind of just worked on that throughout the year and made it this time,” he said.

Since Olszak spent one of his seasons at Crown, he will have three years of eligibility left.

While at Tech, Olszak is a pre-vet major looking to graduate in 2022.

Photo: Billy Watson / LFN

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