SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (CBS) — Sal Cannella has a lot on his plate right now with his Auburn Tigers are playing in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day, but before that, he made a quick stop back home where he was making sure that children had food on their plates this holiday season.

That’s just part of his great story.

Cannella spent part of his Christmas break at Feed My Starving Children in Schaumburg helping pack nutritious meals that are shipped to hungry children all over the world.

“I’ve always been the type of person that has a soft heart wants to give back to people,” said Cannella. “I feel like there’s no better way than something that is in my community that has a huge impact on kids. It’s the least I can do. I’m in such a great platform right now, it would be wrong for me not to use my influence to help other kids.”

Things are going pretty great for Cannella Right now. He’s finishing off his senior football season at Auburn, he’s planning on launching his own fashion line while working to hopefully get drafted into the NFL, and in last year’s Iron Bowl, he made an awesome catch right in front of NFL Hall of Famer Bo Jackson.

“That was crazy,” said Cannella. “At the time I didn’t know he was right there. He came up to me, shook my hand and said it was a great catch and after the game, I was looking at the picture and I’m like ‘oh my God, he’s right in the background.’ I’m going to put that one up in my house one day, for sure!”

Things weren’t always picture perfect for Cannella. After sitting out his junior football season at St. Viator, he returned to play his senior year, but the year off meant basically no college were recruiting him. So he took matters into his own hands.

“I emailed literally D I, D II, D III, every single school,” said Cannella. “I probably had over 500 emails sent and if they didn’t respond, in a couple weeks, I would re-send it.”

All that work only landed him in a junior college in Arizona, but he still had his eyes on a higher prize, so he did the whole email thing again and this time Auburn said yes… eventually.

“The coach told me ‘we didn’t open your email until the fifth one you sent,’” said Cannella. “But I knew that you just have to watch my film once and that being persistent was going to pay off.”

Cannella said he cried tears of joy once Auburn finally said yes.

“I’m finally hear,” said Cannella. “But I can’t change the work ethic I have.”