When Luke Cain was a senior, Derrell Smith was just a freshman. Smith would go on to be a captain at Syracuse University, guiding the Orange to a Pinstripe Bowl victory as a senior in 2010. But Smith says it all started with Luke Cain.
"He was one of my role models," Smith says. "When I first got here, I didn't know anything about college, I didn't know anything about playing linebacker and I looked up to him."
They both played the same strong side linebacker position, and Smith says that he had a similar smaller build, and watching Cain play was inspiring. When told about Smith's reverence for him, Cain smiled, and said it made him happy.
Now, like dozens of other former SU players, Smith wants to help Cain get off of the streets, and back to a normal life. Smith says football, especially at Syracuse, is about family, and that they may only be in school for four or five years, but the bond lasts a lifetime.
"He doesn't have a biological family back home," Smith says. "But, if we can show that he still has a football family and people out here that care about him and that want to see him back on top and doing well, I think that will take him a long way."
The former players hope they can help Cain to get back on his feet by taking small steps. They hope he can eventually go back to school and finish his degree.