It's been six months since Gophers linebacker Jonathan Celestin's father was hit by a truck and killed while taking an early morning walk in Georgia.
Celestin, a senior leader for the Gophers, dedicated his season to his father. On Saturday, his interception return for a touchdown helped Minnesota beat Illinois, 24-17 to improve to 4-3 on the season – and it was a moment for a lifetime for Celestin.
"All for my pops," Celestin said in a Big Ten Network interview. "Grateful."
Celestin held back the tears but choked up a little bit when he said his gesture to the sky after scoring the touchdown was for his dad.
"Something magical on that field happened today. Something spiritual, something of a higher power, whatever you believe in. That was Jon Celestin," said coach P.J. Fleck. "You talk about everything he's been through as a young student-athlete. What he's had to cope with and deal with and be the leader of his family. And then have a coaching change and rely on us to be the fill in for your dad. We can never be your dad, but I want to be as close to your dad as I possibly can be, and to have that trust there – that's why we coach."
The Gophers play at Iowa next Saturday at 5:30 p.m.