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Thursday, March 15, 2012
Offseason spotlight: Bennett Jackson

By Matt Fortuna

With Notre Dame's spring practice season kicking off in six days, we're taking a look at three players whose offseasons could go a long way toward the Irish's success in 2012. Wednesday we looked at John Goodman. Today, we look at a cornerback who has been more active offseason than most.

Spotlight: Bennett Jackson

2011 summary: Jackson played in all 13 games last season, recording 18 total tackles. He returned three kickoffs for a total of 32 yards, with the longest going for 17 yards. This came after a freshman season that saw him earn the team's special teams player of the year honors. Jackson was one of three football players to participate with the Irish's track and field team this spring, joining George and Josh Atkinson.

The skinny: The secondary has some holes to fill, and Jackson figures to have as good a chance as any to fill one of the starting cornerback voids left by graduates Gary Gray and Robert Blanton. The junior-to-be has been all over the place at Notre Dame, which recruited him as a wide receiver and has put him on the field in all 26 games of his young career. (Jackson has also switched numbers during that time, from No. 86 to No. 2). The 6-foot, 185-pounder from New Jersey claims to have run the fastest 40-yard dash on the football team last year, at 4.40, and he has certainly been active this offseason, running the hurdles. That speed, coupled with the techniques he has picked up with a year at corner under his belt, put Jackson in position to assume a starting role for a pass defense that will face Heisman candidate quarterbacks this season in Matt Barkley and Landry Jones.