NOTRE DAME -- It started in Pop Warner, playing for the Hazlet Hawks. Bennett Jackson was always the emotional sparkplug for the team.
"I played running back in Pop Warner," Jackson said. "Yeah, I was always the guy to get fired up and try to get the guys fired up around me."
From running back in Pop Warner, to wide receiver in high school, to switching to cornerback at Notre Dame last season, it's not only Jackson's adaptability that is impressive, it's that he's done it so well so quickly.
And that goes back to the emotion.
"He's got a competitive edge to him," Irish coach Brian Kelly said. "He loves to play. He loves to compete. He's passionate about what he does. He, at times, wears it on his sleeve, but I love to be around guys that are competitive."
"He is definitely one who plays with a lot of emotion," Irish linebacker Manti Te'o said. "I think Bennett's greatest strength is that Bennett hates to lose. He hates to lose. And he especially hates to be the reason why we lost. Now, he's never been the reason why we've lost, but he's always tried to work his hardest to make sure that he's not a liability out there."
Hardly. In his first season as a starter, Jackson already has three interceptions, which is sixth-most in the country.
"I carry myself like I'm going to beat my guy every play, and he's not going to beat me deep," Jackson said. "My confidence grows from day to day. But definitely having game experience is what helps you learn the most."
"As far as game experience, he's considered a young guy," Te'o said. "But if you look at his maturity, he seems like a mature player."