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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Cain transforming into a leader for the Utes

By Liz Frome

Among the many unanswered questions looming on Utah football fans’ minds at the beginning of this new season, there is one in particular that seems to be the peak of everyone’s interest: Who is Terrance Cain?

The 21-year-old junior college transfer is the new leader of the Ute tribe and made his debut with Utah just three short weeks ago. Surprising everyone in fear that Brian Johnson’s shoes might remain empty for the 2009 season, Cain began his Division-1 career going 7-7 before throwing an incomplete pass against Utah State.

He’s already gained the confidence of many fans and shown that their beloved Utes could still be in good hands, illustrating good awareness on the field and demonstrating his speed and versatility by rushing the ball when his passing options aren’t there.

For a young player making the leap from a junior college to a Division-1 program, Cain has shown poise and composure in critical moments, said head coach Kyle Whittingham.

He’s also managed to lead the Utes in extending their winning streak to 16, which is currently the longest in the nation.

Whittingham said Cain is a hard-working and dedicated guy on the field and has been able to step into a team full of talented players and establish himself as a leader.

“He got here in the spring, and he was not real sure of himself because of unfamiliar surroundings and a new offense, but you can just see the transformation in him,” Whittingham said. “He’s gained confidence in the scheme, in what he’s doing, his leadership. He made great strides between game one and game two. The raw stats may not bear that out, but the way he ran the team and the decisions he made and the poise he demonstrated…he’s just that much better.”

Cain said he was always surrounded by sports as a kid and played football, basketball and baseball growing up. Knowing he wanted to pursue athletics in college, he said football was a natural choice that seemed to suit his size and his talent.

“My first love was basketball, but I was too short to play that, so I started playing football and stuck with it,” Cain said.

Cain stands at 5 feet 11 inches and weighs in at a trim 185 lbs. He’s learned how to use his size to his advantage, and has impressed Ute fans, coaches and teammates alike as a smart, agile quarterback who can compete amid the noise of 45,000 fans and run the ball with confidence when he needs to.

Growing up, Cain spent some time as a safety, a cornerback and a receiver, gaining some running experience before settling naturally in the pocket.

His running and passing combination has thus far been effective for the Utes. Whittingham said he is planning on Cain’s rushing yardage increasing as the season progresses.

“Terrance’s run game increased between weeks one and two, and you’re going to see that throughout the rest of the season,” Whittingham said. “He’s a very capable runner. We don’t want to subject him to too many hits, but he’s got a lot of quickness and a lot of speed.”

Cain’s career at Blinn Community College in Texas, where he played before coming to the U, was nothing short of stellar. Set on making a name for himself, Cain set a national junior college record with a 71.1 completion percentage in 2007. He led the NJCAA in passing yards, completions and touchdowns in 2008.

Ending his career at Blinn with 5,313 yards and 51 touchdowns and completing almost 71 percent of his overall pass attempts, Cain proved he had risen to the junior college challenge and was ready to move on to a bigger one.

“It was college football and it was a good experience in that,” Cain said. “It’s not the same speed as D-1, but they’ve got players that deserve to be D-1 players. It was a good transition (and trained) me for situations like this.”

Cain welcomed the challenge of playing at a higher level with eagerness as it presented itself when the U came knocking.

Cain said when he started getting looks from the headline-capturing program, he was cautious not to get too excited.

“I was psyched; I was pumped up, but I didn’t get too hyped because they hadn’t offered me (a position),” Cain said.

But when the invitation to play for the Utes finally came, Cain said he gave into the excitement and immediately called the people that mean the most to him.

“When they offered it to me, I called everybody in my family and told them,” Cain said. “My ace is my mother…she’s always been there for me.”

Cain said his family has supported him through every step of his life. Having left his hometown, his family and his friends to play for Utah, Cain said he appreciates the love and support he’s been given.

“You can’t leave your family, can’t forget where you came from,” Cain said. “I love my family to death.”

For Cain, the Utes are his second family, and describes his new teammates as being just like brothers to him.

The rest of the team feels the same about Cain, laughing and joking with their new quarterback at practices and supporting his decisions for the offense come game time.
“Terrance is doing his thing out there,” said junior offensive lineman Walter Watts. “He’s the man back there…we trust him.”

Cain said he has become more comfortable as a leader for Utah, and he’s taking his progression one week at a time.

“Everybody’s goal is to win that championship and go undefeated, but just get better every week and take it one game at a time is my biggest goal right now,” Cain said. “No skipping ahead.”

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