Vanderbilt signee Rajaan Bennett murdered


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Four-star recruit Rajaan Bennett committed to the Vanderbilt Commodores a few weeks ago and the fans were buzzing about the arrival of the promising young running back. Today, the joy turns to sorrow as Bennett was found murdered early Thursday morning in his Georgia home.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, police were called to the Bennett residence shortly after 2:30 a.m. when a caller phoned in to 911 and whispered that they needed help. It took officers four minutes to arrive and “as they approached and knocked on the door, they heard several gunshots.”

After the four or five shots were fired, two people fled the home — Rajaan’s mother, Narjaketha Bennett, 37, and her brother, Taiwan Hunter, 32. Hunter was hit by at least one gunshot.

The Cobb County SWAT team was called to the scene and when they entered the home they found two people dead: Bennett, 18, and Clifton O’Neal Steager, 39, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Steager was a former boyfriend of Narjaketha Bennett.

Rajaan rushed for 1,857 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior at McEachern High School. He was an all-state running back in Class AAAAA and ranked No. 25 on the AJC’s “Fab 50″ list of recruits.

“All of us at Vanderbilt are devastated by news of Rajaan’s death. This is just so tragic to everybody who knew and loved Rajaan,” Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. “Initially, our thoughts and prayers are with his mother, Narjaketha, and family members. I know he meant so much to them.

“Rajaan was an extraordinary young man and an ideal fit for Vanderbilt University. As we got to know Rajaan, it became very clear to our coaches that he was a better person than he was an athlete,” Johnson said. “He was a leader, a young man who gained the respect of the entire community at McEachern High School.”

Bennett was born in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and just three years ago he dealt with the death of his father.

Bennett’s high school coach, Kyle Hockman, learned of his former running back’s death at around 5:00 a.m. this morning. Hockman had high praise for Bennett, who helped lead the team to an undefeated season this past year.

“I’m sure you want to talk about Rajaan on the football field, but I promise he’s a better person than he is player,” Hockman said. “He has a great head on his shoulders, a guy that has been the man in his household for quite a while, yet still worked to maintain a solid GPA in class and become such a great player. Rajaan is both humble and hard working. He’s a guy that is very respected by his teammates and the McEachern community. I think the world of this young man.”