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Chris Creighton helped guide Eastern Michigan to its first winning season since 1995 last year, but then suffered through a disappointing season in 2017.

The Eagles finished 5-7 and dropped six games by a combined total of 23 points.

Now, Creighton must replace veteran quarterback Brogan Roback and that is why he is thrilled to have signed Detroit Cass Tech quarterback Aaron Jackson, who plans to enroll early.

Jackson played in the Division 1 state championship game as a sophomore, throwing for 194 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-27 loss to Romeo while filling in for the injured Rodney Hall. He was a backup under Hall last year before leading Cass Tech to the state semifinals his senior year.

“He’s coming in January so that’s a really big deal, to come in and be here for winter workouts, become a part of the team and be here for spring practice where he’s going to get 15 practice opportunities and be able to throw his hat into the ring,” Creighton said. “He knew that from the start, that our starter (Roback) is going to be done. He talked about coming in January and our eyes just lit up because it absolutely gives him a six-month advantage, and not just learning the system, but at quarterback you’ve got to lead so it’s really big deal.”

More: Reed headlines WMU’s history-making recruiting class

So, why is Creighton so optimistic about Jackson?

“The one thing about Aaron is that he’s so composed and in control, not a guy who will get rattled, just has a maturity about him,” Creighton said. “He throws a really nice ball. He can spin a football. He can hurt you with his legs, too, and that’s a dimension that just makes it more difficult for the defense.”

Jackson is looking forward to playing close to home.

“They’re on the rise, have new facilities in the near future. It just felt like a time to jump in,” Jackson said. “I’m definitely going in to compete. I want to go in and play and I feel I can bring athleticism, smarts, everything to the table. I can’t wait to get there.”

Creighton is also high on Birmingham Seaholm defensive end Carter Stagner and Oak Park defensive back Robert Daniel.

More: 'Homegrown talent' highlights CMU's early signing haul

“We have the best defensive ends in the league," Creighton said. "Both were all-league and coming back in Maxx Crosby and Jeremiah Harris and Carter’s a guy we see coming in here and he has a frame, a mindset and a motor that when we’re able to put some meat on his bones and teach him so he knows what he’s doing, we think he’s got a chance to develop into a great defensive end. You know, potentially in the lines of Jeremiah Harris, a guy who plays incredibly hard and is a very productive player.”

No doubt, Creighton is thrilled to have Daniel, a four-year starter and three-year captain who recorded 80 tackles and forced four fumbles his senior year to help Oak Park reach a Division 2 regional final.

“We’re super excited about him,” Creighton said. “We’re making some inroads. We had a bunch of guys from the area in my first class and now you look four years later, Carter, Aaron and Robert Daniel. We feel as though we’re doing better.”

Creighton said he plans to have nine players come in early, including seven transfers.

“That’s a pretty big deal for the same reason as talked with Aaron,” Creighton said. “We have seven upperclassmen who will be here at the mid-year. Those guys will be here through winter conditioning, a semester of school, through 15 spring ball practices so they won’t be new anymore. They will all have a legitimate chance to come in here and really make us better for next fall.”

david.goricki@detroitnews.com

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EASTERN MICHIGAN RECRUITS

Name

Pos.

Ht./Wt.

School

* Kobie Beltram

LB

6-2, 230

College of San Francisco

Robert Daniel

DB

6-0, 185

Oak Park (MI)

Brian Dooley

OL

6-6, 275

St. John’s Jesuit (OH)

Dylan Drummond

WR

6-0, 180

Cuyahoga Heights (OH)

Mikey Haney

DL

6-6, 260

Maumee (OH)

Aaron Jackson

QB

6-2, 210

Cass Tech (MI)

Marcellus Johnson

OL

6-4, 260

Normal Community (IL)

* Line Latu

WR

5-11, 190

College of San Mateo

* Tyrone Neal

LB

6-0, 225

Fort Scott C.C.

* Thomas Odukoya

TE

6-6, 260

Garden City C.C.

* Turan Rush

DL

6-1, 260

Antelope Valley College

* Shawn Simeon

DL

6-5, 220

Coffeyville C.C.

Timarcus Simpson

DB

5-11, 170

Sickles (FL)

Carter Stagner

DL

6-4, 225

Birmingham Seaholm (MI)

Isaiah Watson

DB

5-10, 160

Calvert Hall (MD)

EJ Williams

DB

6-1, 208

Pike (IN)

* - Transfer

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