Unless you're an avid follower of Bemidji State football or the NFL's New England Patriots, there's a strong chance you've never heard of Gunner Olszewski.
The 22-year-old didn't get drafted after his All-American career at Bemidji State University, but he was picked up by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent and has since turned that long shot into one of the 53 roster spots with the perennial NFL power.
Not only did he make the team, but Olszewski did so by making the transition from defensive back to wide receiver. He's also a dynamic return man.
How he found out he made the Patriots roster has been described as a rollercoaster. He was first told he was going to be released, but New England made a trade that opened a roster spot, prompting team officials to call him back saying he made the team.
What's more is that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick believes Olszewski has a bright future in the NFL.
“Gunner is a tough kid,” Belichick told reporters during a conference call Sunday, according to the Providence Journal. “He has improved a lot. He has shown some versatility and he still has a ways to go. If he continues to work hard, he is very capable to continue his rate of improvement. He has enough talent to be a productive player for us.”
In four years at Bemidji State, Olszewski played defensive back and punt returner. He racked 310 tackles and 13 interceptions on defense and returned 69 punts for 923 yards and one touchdown. The Texas native was named the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2018.
It's not entirely clear how the Patriots will utilize Olszewski to begin the season, but if has any impact at all it'll likely come on special teams. Olszewski finished the preseason with five catches for 69 yards in four games, but he piled up 213 yards as a return man (kickoffs and punts).