Vandy RB signee gunned down in Georgia

McEachern High School football star Rajaan Bennett, a running back prospect who had signed a letter-of-intent with Vanderbilt two weeks ago, was shot and killed early Thursday morning inside his Powder Springs, Ga. home, according to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Bennett's body was found by a Cobb County SWAT team which had been called to investigate a 911 call. Also dead was Clifton O'Neal Steager, 39, who had died of a gunshot wound to the head. Police termed the incident a possible murder-suicide.

Bennett, 18, rated a three-star athlete by, was one of the jewels in a recruiting class considered to be Vanderbilt's best of the Bobby Johnson era. As a senior captain he had rushed for 1,857 yards and 28 touchdowns, earning recognition as the Journal-Constitution's Class AAAAA Offensive Player of the Year.

Vanderbilt had beaten out Tennessee and Kentucky, among others, in the recruiting wars for Bennett.

"All of us at Vanderbilt are devastated by news of Rajaan's death," said Commodore head coach Bobby Johnson. "This is just so tragic to everybody that knew and loved Rajaan. 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. He was a leader, a young man who gained the respect of the entire community at McEachern High School."

"As a running back, he's one of the very best I've ever coached," McEachern coach Kyle Hockman had said about him on signing day. "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. 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."

Also injured in the shooting was Bennett's 32-year-old uncle, Taiwan Hunter. Police said that Hunter and Bennett's mother, Narjaketha Bennett, 37, were seen running from the house hysterical after several shots had been fired, according to the Journal-Constitution. Hunter was being treated at an Atlanta-area hospital.

Bennett was the oldest of four children of Narjaketha Bennett and the late Charles Bennett. He had been in line to graduate from McEachern in May. Top Stories