North Carolina State’s Ben Kaiser beat cancer, gets another shot at football

An N.C. State offensive lineman has been granted a sixth-year waiver by the NCAA to make up for the time he missed while battling cancer.

Ben Kaiser, who is now cancer-free, announced the news of his eligibility in a tweet on Thursday.

“I was just relieved, honestly,” Kaiser said in an interview Thursday afternoon. “I’m just glad to be a part of this team again and get to play with the band of brothers.”

Kaiser, who’s 6-3 and 290 pounds, missed his freshman and sophomore seasons at Pasadena City College, a junior college in Pasadena, Calif., after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2013. He was declared cancer-free in spring 2014.

Coaches and doctors agreed it wasn’t in his best interest to return for his 2014 sophomore season because Kaiser, who was a defensive lineman at the time, had dropped in weight, from 240 to 195 pounds.

Cancer, it turns out, became Kaiser’s motivation.

“It’s easy to fall into depression,” he said. “For me, it was like, ‘I’m going to play football again.’ It was just a small hump to get over. It’s given me a reason to get good grades in school, to get structure, and it’s given me awesome friends that I’ll have for a lifetime.”

Kaiser transferred in 2016 to N.C. State, where he joined the football team as a walk-on.

Since the clock started ticking on his playing eligibility in 2013, when he was a redshirt freshman, the 2017 season would have been his last in college football. But he wasn’t ready to walk away from the sport.

About the time N.C. State’s 2017 football season was wrapping up, Kaiser said he started gathering medical documents to convince the NCAA he deserved another season.

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Despite many unknowns surrounding his status for next season, Kaiser stayed with the Wolfpack in a volunteer role this spring and continued to work out like any other member of the team.

Kaiser — whose only snap in two years at N.C. State came last fall against Carolina — is ready for his final run in college football.

“It’s just another opportunity for me to take advantage of this situation. I’ve been around the system two years now, so I understand how everything works around here,” he said.

This article is written by Aaron Moody from The News & Observer and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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