Smith ends his 'movie' like career

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Russell Athletic Bowl on Saturday night marked the end of the career of the player who started more games for the University of Louisville than any other in history. Senior Hakeem Smith broke the record for career games started in his final game, a 39-6 win over Miami.

started in his final game, a 39-6 win over Miami.

Safety Hakeem Smith has been at the University of Louisville for five seasons, earning a starting spot in his second career game in 2010.

The native of Jonesboro, Ga., has seen is all with the Cardinals.

Smith was part of the final team during the Steve Kragthorpe-era and stayed as new coach Charlie Strong transitioned. He's seen the program rise from hoping to make a bowl game to aspirations of an undefeated season.

On Saturday night, Smith played his final game at U of L and he leaves the program after making a bit of history.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Smith broke the school record for consecutive starts with 51. The record had previously been held by Travis Leffew from 202-05 when he started 50 straight games.

"Very, very special for me," Smith said. "I built myself on being consistent and that's what I did when I got the opportunity and was able to get my chance to start, I said I was going to be consistent and I think I was that here.

"I was able to work very hard and that's how I was able to maintain my ability to play. I just kept working hard through it all."

Smith finished his illustrious career with 287 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, two sacks, five forced fumbles and four interceptions. He had 21 pass breakups.

After redshirting in 2009, Smith didn't start the opener in '10 but was in the lineup the following week against Eastern Kentucky and stayed there throughout the rest of his career, which ended in the Russell Athletic Bowl>

Smith said he's "very proud" of what he accomplished as a player and what his team accomplished going 23-3 in his final two seasons, including 12-1 this season and winning a bowl game in three of his four years playing.

"If you can see the start to the finish, it's like a movie," Smith said. "It's been like a movie my whole time here. It's pretty amazing.

"We put Louisville on the map. We started from the bottom and each and every year we have built it up. The foundation has been laid."

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