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Junior Jabbie: Jabbie turned to past Irish standouts for help

Dan Murphy | Thursday, November 15, 2007

Entering the Blue-Gold Game last spring, Notre Dame’s starting running back spot was still up in the air. With a stable full of young talented backs, it seemed that Charlie Weis had more than enough options.

Weis, however, had to add one more to the list after senior Junior Jabbie rushed for 87 yards on 13 attempts to lead the Gold squad to a 10-6 win. Jabbie’s performance was far and away the best of the game, almost doubling the yardage of all the other backs combined.

“I realized there was going to be an opportunity for a lot of running backs to play because no one really had any experience,” Jabbie said.

After the spring game, Jabbie talked to his good friend, and former Irish back, Darius Walker about what to expect in the future. Walker told him to keep working hard and good things would happen.

Jabbie, who had seen action on special teams his junior year, worked hard and became a situational back for the Notre Dame offense with appearances in nine of 10 games so far this year. He has carried the ball eight times for a total of 21 yards, including four carries during the second half comeback of the team’s 33-19 loss to Purdue on Sept. 29.

“Everybody was put in when they were needed,” he said. “I was more of a third down kind of back, but we all had our own packages for different situations.”

Jabbie said everyday at practice was a competition with the other backs and that the friendly contest helped make him and the rest of his teammates better runners this year.

Jabbie was recruited by Notre Dame as a defensive back and was listed at that position on the depth chart for his first two seasons. He had experience in the backfield as a running back in high school and decided to give the offensive side of the ball a try in his junior season.

Jabbie spent a year at the Hun School of Princeton in New Jersey as a post-graduate before coming to Notre Dame in 2003. There he was named an All-prep running back by the Trenton Times after rushing for 1,200 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns.

Before the Hun School, Jabbie graduated from Sayreville War Memorial High School, the same alma mater of former Irish linebacker Brandon Hoyte.

“When I was getting recruited he told me to just keep working hard and that I would be successful,” Jabbie said.

The pair knew each other long before high school. The family friends met playing youth sports long before coming to South Bend.

“He was always one of the good athletes, so it was pretty cool to end up at the same school as him,” Jabbie said.

Hoyte took the young back under his wing when he first arrived in South Bend, inviting him over to his house and reminiscing about their childhoods to help make Jabbie feel more comfortable in his new surroundings.

Jabbie, who is in the Mendoza College of Business, said he still isn’t sure what he wants to when he graduates and is just concentrating on football at this point.