Minnesota’s Casey O’Brien is now a five-time kicker of cancer’s ass

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Thanks to courageous Minnesota football player Casey O’Brien, we have back-to-back heartwarming stories in the midst of all of this heartbreak.

At the age of 13, O’Brien was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.  As his official Minnesota bio states, O’Brien “has beaten cancer four times (including bouts in high school and college)… after numerous rounds of chemotherapy and treatment to continue his career as a holder.”

Ultimately, O’Brien, whose father had worked for the university’s football department at one point, walked on at Minnesota and redshirted as a true freshman in 2017, then didn’t see the field the following season.  Through six games for the Gophers this past season, that had remained the case — until Week 8.  In a romp over Rutgers that kept Minnesota unbeaten at 7-0, O’Brien held for not one but two point-after attempts, including one in which he looked like a veteran of dozens of games in flawlessly handling a bad snap.

In late November, however, O’Brien took to Twitter to reveal that “[e]arlier today I had my three-month scans and the doctors found a small spot in one of my lungs.”

“They are not sure what it is, but they want to remove it this week so they can test it,” the redshirt sophomore wrote, adding, “I am looking forward to returning to the field soon.”

Now, fast-forward a little over five months.  On Twitter Friday, O’Brien revealed that he has kicked cancer’s ass. Again.  And is now a five-time survivor of the insidious disease.

“God has taken care of me again!” O’Brien wrote, while also thanking his “HERO doctors and nurses.”

Added the Minnesota football player, “Can’t wait to go play football again.”

God bless Casey O’Brien.  And God bless all of our healthcare workers.

Alabama’s Anderson repeats as Bronko Nagurski award winner

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. has become the second two-time winner of the Bronko Nagurski Award given to the nation’s top collegiate defensive player.

Anderson was presented the award on Monday night by the Charlotte Touchdown Club.

The 6-foot-4, 243-pound Anderson had 10 sacks for the No. 5-ranked Crimson Tide this season. He also won the award last year after recording 17 1/2 sacks.

Anderson, a junior, had two sacks in Alabama’s regular-season win finale against rival Auburn and had his first touchdown when he returned an interception 25 yards against Louisiana-Monroe.

Anderson joins former Northwestern linebacker Pat Fitzgerald as the only two-time winner of the award. Fitzgerald won the award in 1995 and 1996 and later went on to become the head coach at Northwestern.

It’s unclear if Anderson will enter the NFL draft or return to Alabama next season.

FSU standout QB Jordan Travis returning for senior season

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis, the fourth player in school history to account for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in a single season, is staying in school for his senior year.

Travis made the announcement Monday, the same day hundreds of players across the nation entered the NCAA transfer portal or declared for the NFL draft. Travis chose a different path and could be an early favorite in next year’s Heisman Trophy race.

“So many memories have been made on this field and we’re not done yet,” Travis said in a highlight video posted on social media. “See y’all in 2023.”

A fourth-year junior, Travis has 22 touchdown passes to go along with seven rushing scores, one receiving and just four interceptions. He has led the 13th-ranked Seminoles (9-3) to five consecutive wins as they prepare to play Oklahoma (6-6) in the Cheez-It Bowl on Dec. 29 in Orlando.

Travis joined FSU’s three Heisman Trophy winners – Charlie Ward in 1993, Chris Weinke in 2000 and Jameis Winston in 2013 – to account for 3,000 yards and 30 TDs in a season. He is one of six QBs in Power Five conferences with at least 20 TD passes and four or fewer interceptions.