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June 7, 2009

Jackson commits to Irish

When Bennett Jackson left Notre Dame last month, he figured he'd be back.

On Sunday the 6-foot-1, 165-pound receiver from Hazlet, N.J., made sure of it. The star of Raritan High School made his verbal commitment to the Irish football program, wrapping up a courtship by Notre Dame that was barely two months old.

Jackson received a scholarship from head coach Charlie Weis in early April, visited Notre Dame in late May and committed in early June. Jackson chose the Irish over offers from Michigan State, Rutgers, Boston College, Maryland, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and others.

"I kind of knew I was going to Notre Dame for a few weeks now," Jackson said. "I'd kind of come to the decision that I was going to go there. I pretty much liked everything about it. There are no negatives I can think of, that's definitely a bonus. I just felt comfortable when I was there."

Weis wasn't the only reason this three-star receiver wanted to commit. Jackson credited offensive line coach Frank Verducci too. The Irish recruiter for New Jersey was the first to get the news of Jackson's commitment among the Notre Dame coaches.

"The best thing might be the nice campus and I love that they have really good academics," Jackson said. "The academics there will put me in a good position. They have a good football team too and there are a few Jersey guys on the coaching staff, so that was a bonus. There were a lot of things that I liked about it."

Notre Dame sees Jackson fitting into the offense as a slot receiver, a role he's filled for Raritan in addition to developing as a deep threat. Last season Jackson amassed 35 catches for 509 yards and three scores to go with 35 carries for 257 yards and four touchdowns.

Jackson is the second receiver to commit to the Irish in the 2010 recruiting cycle at a position that could fill up sooner than expected. It appeared Notre Dame would take three receivers in its next class, a run that started with a commitment from local product Daniel Smith in late January.

With Jerrell Priester favoring the Irish and scheduled to visit South Bend on June 26, Notre Dame could find itself tight on numbers before training camp kicks off. However, there's no doubt the Irish staff envisions Jackson filling a specific need that's been hard to fill in recent classes.

"They're looking at me as a slot receiver who can work on the inside," Jackson said.

Jackson will return to Notre Dame next season for an official visit when the Irish host Michigan State on Sept. 19. Ironically, the Spartans might have been Notre Dame's biggest competition. Jackson visited both South Bend and East Lansing during his Midwest swing last month.

"Once I went to Notre Dame, I liked it but I liked Michigan State too," Jackson said. "I just felt a lot more comfortable at Notre Dame."



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