Olszewski punt return

Pictured here returning a punt 70 yards for a touchdown during the regular season, former Alvin High School football standout and New England Patriots' second-year veteran Gunner Olszewski (80) was named to the AP National Football League's All-Pro First Team at punt returner.  (Courtesy of the New England Patriots/David Silverman)

The New Patriots’ “Gun Show” officially became  an “All-Pro Show” on Jan. 8.

Former Alvin Yellowjacket Gunner Olszewski was named to the Associated Press National Football League’s All-Pro First Team, becoming both the first Jacket and also the first player ever from  Bemidji State University to accomplish the milestone.

Playing in his second year with the Patriots as a kick returner and wide receiver, Olszewski gained all-pro status at punt returner for the first time in his career. The former Jacket and Beaver paced the NFL with 346 punt return yards, a 17.3 punt return average, a trio of 40 plus yard returns and a punt return for a touchdown.

The 17.3 punt return average broke New England’s team record, topping the previous mark of 15.5 yards per return held by 12th year wide receiver Julian Edelman. Olszewski now becomes the fourth Patriot ever to lead the National Football League in punt return average.

Olszewski’s banner sophomore campaign featured 20 punt returns for the 346 yards, no fumbles and a long return of 70 yards in 13 games. The former Alvin High School standout posted 316 of his punt return yards over the final six games of the 2020 season, while adding five catches at receiver for 62 yards and one touchdown.

Olszewski also collected 418 yards on 18 kickoff returns this season.

While initially having a punt return for a touchdown called back due to a penalty on Nov. 29 against the Arizona Cardinals, Olszewski came right back the following week on Dec. 6 and rocked the Los Angeles Chargers in the Patriots’ 45-0 shutout for a pair of end zone sprints, the first TD’s of his career.

Olszewski exploded for a 70-yard punt return for a score and later turned a first-down reception at receiver into a 38-yard catch-and-run trip to the end zone. With Olszewski compiling 145 yards overall on the punt returns and the TD, the NFL selected the second-year veteran as the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance.

Olszewski was joined on the AP first team by Patriots’ punter Jake Bailey with a second team nod going to receiver Matthew Slater.

A panel of 50 media members, who cover the league on a regular basis, chose the AP’s all-pro squads.

Olszewski, a 2015 AHS graduate, reached the century mark in tackles in his senior all-district first team year at defensive back with 114. He also returned a pair of punts for TD’s, scored on a fumble recovery, intercepted two passes and blocked a pair of PAT’s.

At Division II Bemidji State University, Olszewski became the school’s all-time leader in punt returns and solo tackles. Olszewski brought home three postseason honors last fall with the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) naming the Beavers’ defensive back to its Division II Coaches’ All-America Team recently. Olszewski was one of three Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference student-athletes named to the AFCA All-America First Team.

Olszewski overcame long odds to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster after signing as a free agent in the spring of 2019, eventually earning the praise of both New England coaches and teammates, who quickly tabbed him with the “Gun Show” nickname.

Robert Wilcox, the director of facilities and special events for AISD, coached Olszewski during his senior season at Alvin High School.

“When I first came in and the coaches said that guy is pretty special and a pretty good safety over there, the first time that I saw him, I said that guy, because he didn’t have the physical traits that you see a lot of times,” Wilcox said. “Gunner always had the it factor. The it factor is if you have to tell someone what it is, they don’t have it. Gunner just had it.”

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