Minnesota placeholder, four-time cancer survivor, earns Big Ten weekly honors

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)
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MINNEAPOLIS (KCRG) - A sophomore walk-on football player for the University of Minnesota received weekly honors from the Big Ten Conference on Monday, celebrating both his on- and off-field story.

Casey O'Brien, placeholder, was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week after Minnesota's game against Rutgers on Saturday, October 19, according to the conference.

Saturday's game was O'Brien's first game action as a college football player. He successfully held three extra-point attempts during the second half of the Golden Gopher's 42-7 win over the Scarlet Knights.

According to the University of Minnesota, O'Brien was first diagnosed with osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, at age 13. He has beaten the disease four times since then, though he continued to play football as a placeholder throughout. O'Brien also started playing golf after his diagnosis and was a letter-winner for Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Minnesota is on a bye week this weekend. They will face off against Penn State at home on November 9.