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College Football

Gophers’ Casey O’Brien, four-time cancer survivor, to undergo surgery

Minnesota Gophers sophomore holder Casey O’Brien, a four-time cancer survivor, is set to undergo another surgery this week after a “small spot” was discovered on one of his lungs during a routine three-month scan.

O’Brien shared the news via social media on Monday, stating in a tweet that he’s “[r]eady to go 1-0 in this surgery season!”

O’Brien was first diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, as a freshman in high school. He has undergone a full left knee replacement, multiple lung surgeries and several rounds of chemotherapy after cancer was discovered in his lungs on three additional occasions.

Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck is the only coach who offered O’Brien, a St. Paul, Minn., native a chance to make a team as a walk-on.

“I met with Casey earlier today, and he shared the news with me, as he does after each scan,” Fleck said in a statement, via the Star Tribune. “Casey is the strongest young man I have ever met, and I know he will recover from this as well. He has an entire team, community, state and all of college football supporting him and rowing the boat with him.”

Earlier this season in a 42-7 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, O’Brien got on the field for the first time in his college career, holding on three extra-point attempts during the fourth quarter. O’Brien’s debut led to a touching moment when he and Fleck shared an emotional embrace on the sideline. O’Brien was later named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week for his on-field contributions.

Gophers players, coaches and staff obviously will have O’Brien on their minds and in their hearts when they play host to the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium with the Big Ten West championship on the line.