Penn State fullback Brian Milne dreams of playing in the NFL and winning an Olympic gold medal in the discus throw, but he already has won the biggest battle of his life.
Four years ago, when Milne was a heavily recruited 17-year-old prep star at Fort Leboeuf, near Erie, Pa., doctors discovered that he had Hodgkin's disease, a potentially fatal form of cancer that causes the lymph nodes to swell.
"When I almost died, I made a promise to myself that when I beat cancer, I wanted to do everything in my life to make it as profitable as I could," he said. "I didn't want to look back some day and say I could have done this or that and didn't.
"One of my happiest moments was when Coach (Joe) Paterno called me in the hospital and told me not to worry about football or a scholarship, that he wanted me to come to Penn State no matter what. That was incredible. I had no idea I could play football again."
A tumor the size of a grapefruit was removed from his chest, but, while undergoing painful chemotherapy treatments, he participated in track and field and won the 1993 NCAA discus championship with a throw of 205 feet 5 inches. After gaining more than 50 pounds, up to 253 on a 6-3 frame, he returned to football that fall.
He has eight touchdowns and 267 yards rushing this season while sharing fullback duties with Jon Witman. But Milne's most important role has been as a blocker for All-American Ki-Jana Carter and the other Penn State tailbacks.