Skip to main content

Watch: 4-time cancer survivor Casey O'Brien makes Gophers debut

It was an emotional moment for all involved.
Screen Shot 2019-10-19 at 7.44.47 PM

The Minnesota Golden Gopher football team's win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday appeared to be business as usual for this year's team. However, as the Gophers were well in control of the game in the fourth quarter, head coach P.J. Fleck made a change at place holder and Casey O'Brien entered the game.

On the surface, this looks like a move designed to get some of the backups on the team some playing time in a blowout. But O'Brien's story is different considering the walk-on is a four-time cancer survivor and has undergone 14 surgeries dating back to his initial diagnosis of osteosarcoma in high school.

Throughout his recovery, O'Brien continued to chase his dream of playing Division-I football and as a place holder for the Cretin-Durham Hall football team during his junior and senior seasons. As he made his way to the Gophers, he continued to practice and had yet to make his way into a game until Saturday afternoon.

After Mohamed Ibraheim scored a touchdown to put the Gophers up 28-0, O'Brien made his way to the field for an extra point attempt from Michael Lantz. After the kick went through the uprights, O'Brien was mobbed by his teammates and shared a long embrace with Fleck on the sidelines.

"He's an unbelievable person," Fleck said of O'Brien after the game to Big Ten Network. "Nobody can take away that he played college football in the Big Ten."

"This is what I've dreamed about," O'Brien added in an interview with BTN. "Tonight, it got to come true."

O'Brien would hold on two more placekicks for Lantz to close the game and was part of the Gophers victory that ensured their first 7-0 start since 1960.

O'Brien's story has gained national notoriety of late as it was featured on ESPN College Gameday. The 20-year old also spoke to reporters at Big Ten Media Day prior to the start of the 2019 season.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-06-30 at 3.19.42 PM

Gasoline may be cause of sewer explosion on U of M campus

An all-clear was given around 9 p.m. Thursday, with residents in the area allowed to return to their homes.

image

Overwhelming demand for THC products on first day of new law in MN

One shop owner said his Chaska store broke the online sales record before they opened Friday morning.

Flickr - Lake Minnetonka boat - Greg Gjerdingen

Increased drunk boating enforcement over 4th of July weekend

The increased enforcement is part of the Operation Dry Water initiative.

Kayak

Four kayakers stranded, rescued in Chisholm park

The kayakers became stranded at Redhead Mountain Bike Park Thursday afternoon.

SherburneCoJailDrugArrests

Duo charged after 10-pound meth package sent to wrong address

More than 10 pounds of meth are off the street thanks to a delivery error.

Screen Shot 2022-07-01 at 11.01.32 AM

Bird Rides' suburban expansion continues in Minnesota

Its scooter season in Minnesota. The latest on where you can find Bird e-scooters:

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Man found dead with 'trauma to his face' in St. Paul

A man was found dead with "trauma to his face" in St. Paul after 3 a.m.

Hibbing ambulance

Boyfriend jailed after woman found dead in Hibbing

The woman was found dead on Tuesday, June 28.

ambulance

2 motorcyclists killed in crash near Duluth

The crash happened at a curve in the road north of Duluth.

Life Link

18 injured in two separate crashes involving teen drivers

The crashes happened Thursday in Ham Lake and North Branch Township.

ambulance

Motorcyclist killed on I-494 crash in Richfield

The Minnesota State Patrol has identified the victim as a 42-year-old Shakopee man.

013_kitchen

Gallery: This Seward Neighborhood gem SOLD fast!

Classic 1903 home came with modern updates

Related

Casey O'Brien

Gophers placeholder Casey O’Brien beats cancer for fifth time

O’Brien shared the news on his final day of chemotherapy.

Casey O'Brien

Gophers' Casey O'Brien, 5-time cancer survivor, retires from football

He has dealt with multiple bouts with a form of bone cancer since he was 13.

Gophers lead Big Ten West after routing Rutgers

After traveling east to shut out the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the Gophers improved to 7-0 for the first time since 1960 thanks to a 42-7 victory.

Screen Shot 2019-11-10 at 9.43.19 AM

Can the Gophers actually make the College Football Playoff?

It's the best start to a Gopher football season in 115 years.

Screen Shot 2019-10-19 at 7.44.47 PM

Gophers' Casey O'Brien to undergo surgery for spot on his lung

The sophomore placeholder has already beaten cancer four times.

Mohamed Ibrahim

Mohamed Ibrahim will return to Gophers in 2021

The Gophers running back was a third-team All American in 2020.

Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 9.56.03 PM

Gophers stomp Nebraska for first 6-0 start since 2003

For the second straight week, the Gophers ran all over the opponent, racking up 322 yards on the ground in a 34-7 victory at TCF Bank Stadium.

Screen Shot 2019-11-13 at 4.43.39 PM

Tanner Morgan's emergence for Gophers is reaching historic proportions

The semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award is having a monster year.