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

The four-time cancer survivor played his first game Saturday against Rutgers.
Credit: AP
Minnesota Golden Gophers punter Casey O'Brien (14) holds the ball for an extra point kick during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Rutgers Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Piscataway, N.J. (AP Photo/Sarah Stier)

MINNEAPOLIS — University of Minnesota Golden Gophers placeholder Casey O'Brien has been named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week, following his inspirational debut on Saturday.

O'Brien is a four-time cancer survivor, who saw the first game action of his collegiate career in the Gophers' 42-7 win at Rutgers. He was the placeholder for the Gophers' final three point-after attempts.

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Six years ago, O'Brien was a high school freshman quarterback at Cretin-Derham Hall when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer. He was told he would never play sports again, especially football, after the cancer forced him to have his left knee replaced.

The osteosarcoma has come back three more times, but he's beat the disease each time.

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

Now a sophomore at the U of M, O'Brien was a walk-on as a placeholder for the Gophers. He delivered the keynote speech on behalf of players at the Big Ten Football Kickoff Luncheon in July, where he described how football helped him as he was battling cancer.

O'Brien is the sixth Gopher to be recognized with a Big Ten honor so far this season.

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