The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were perfect through the regular season until they ran into the Alabama Crimson Tide in the BCS National Championship game. Their success was predicated on a strong defense that dominated opposing offenses. One of the leaders of that defense returning for 2013 is defensive back Bennett Jackson, who will return healthy next fall.
Jackson finished third on the team in tackles last season, finishing the year with 65 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions and four pass breakups. Most impressive, however, is that he did it all with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, playing through pain and numbness so well that most people had no idea he was even hurt.
The shoulder was initially hurt last spring and likely should have been operated on then. If Jackson had gotten the surgery last May, however, he would not have been able to secure his starting spot at corner in the fall and would not have had near the impact that he did in 2012. After transitioning from wide receiver to corner during his sophomore season, Jackson didn’t want to miss his opportunity to crack the starting lineup.
This offseason, Jackson had surgery to repair the shoulder and will return for his senior season 100 percent healthy. That will be a huge boost to a defense that loses its leader, linebacker Manti Te’o, and will be looking for new leaders to step up. If Jackson was able to put together the season that he did in 2012 with just one arm, there’s no telling what he can accomplish in 2013.