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Gophers placeholder Casey O'Brien opens up about inspirational moment

The four-time cancer survivor played his first game Saturday against Rutgers.

MINNEAPOLIS — The snap, hold, and kick is the triumphant moment Casey O'Brien will remember forever.

"Still feels pretty surreal," he said Wednesday. "Honestly I was more excited than I was nervous. Moment that I've been waiting for a long time and make sure I took it all in. I've done it a thousand times in practice and to go out there and do it on the big stage and letting myself know I'm back to playing football."

He's back to playing football after numerous surgeries and chemotherapy treatment; and after being told he would never play sports again, especially football.

After beating cancer four times.

Saturday he beat the odds and so many were there to celebrate that moment with him.

"I looked over to the sideline and I saw people running on the field and I was worried we were going to get flagged so I told everyone to get back," said
O'Brien, laughing.

RELATED: U of M's Casey O'Brien named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week

Then there was the embrace with head coach P.J. Fleck.

"I just wanted to let him know how thankful I was for giving me the chance to play for him," said O'Brien.

Wednesday, O'Brien referenced the bracelets he wears on his right wrist for kids he met while in the hospital and some sent to him from all over the country.

"I'm carrying a lot of people whether they're here or not every time I step on the football field," said O'Brien.

He had just one simple message.

"My message is if I can then you can so somebody just had to be the first."

RELATED: Tackle Cancer: Placeholder's fight motivates teammates, others battling cancer

O'Brien says since Saturday and his first game action he's had a number of people reach out to him who are going through osteosarcoma and other cancers.

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