Casey O'Brien saw his first game action for the Gophers on Saturday. Now he has his first Big Ten award.
The conference honored the Gophers sophomore holder Monday with the Special Teams Player of the Week award after his performance in the 42-7 win at Rutgers, which helped the No. 17 Gophers to 7-0. O'Brien held three made extra points in the fourth quarter, including swiftly resetting a bad snap.
O'Brien is a four-time cancer survivor, first diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, as a freshman quarterback at Cretin-Derham Hall. What ensued was a years-long battle, including a full left knee replacement, multiple lung surgeries and chemotherapy treatments after the cancer reappeared in his lungs three more times.
He also switched to holder, a position less at risk for catastrophic contact, in order to continue playing football. Gophers coach P.J. Fleck was the only coach to provide O'Brien a walk-on opportunity. O'Brien has been cancer free for close to two years now.
You can read about O'Brien's story here from when he spoke at the Big Ten Media Days Kickoff Luncheon. He has also since featured on ESPN's College Gameday and become one of the top stories across college football this year.
And here is where you can read about his special night at Rutgers.
This is a conference-high sixth player of the week award for the Gophers this year. They set a school record with eight recognitions last year.
Also of note, the Gophers game against Maryland this Saturday will be on ESPN.