The Vanderbilt signee, who was killed Feb. 18 in a shooting at his family's Powder Springs home, meant a lot to his teammates, friends, family and the entire McEachern community. On the field, he was a standout running back who helped lead the Indians to an undefeated regular season last year.
Friday's service will take place on the field after McEachern completes its pre-game warmups. A framed jersey will be presented to Bennett's family: mother Narjaketha, sister Narcharlette and brother Desyvon. A monument of Rajaan Bennett's likeness will also be unveiled outside the McEachern fieldhouse.
"We've invited his family, and we'll have some players back from last year take part in the ceremony," McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said. "It will be an emotional situation prior to the game, but the guys will need to be in control because that's what Rajaan would have wanted."
After rushing for more than 1,800 yards last fall, Bennett was named the Associated Press' Class AAAAA Offensive Player of the Year. He had his choice of nearly a dozen scholarship offers, but signed a letter of intent to play football at Vanderbilt.
According to Jimmy Dorsey, the McEachern athletic director and Bennett's football coach for his first two years, Bennett maintained a 3.8 grade-point average and talked of becoming involved with architecture or construction design once his playing days were complete.
"Rajaan was the type of player and student-athlete that would have had this honor at some point," Hockman said, "but we wanted to get it done early for his family."
Dorsey also believed in the timing of the jersey retirement.
"Because of his athletic ability, Rajaan was being considered for this honor even before the tragedy. We just wish we had the opportunity to do it when he was alive."
Bennett will become the sixth McEachern football player to have his jersey number retired, joining quarterbacks A.J. Suggs (17) and Kevin Espy (11), linebacker David Summers (44), running back Marcus Hinton (6) and tight end Adam Meadows (86), who went on to have an 11-year NFL career as an offensive tackle.
As Bennett's death shook the McEachern community, his teammates, as well as the school, have done other things to keep Rajaan's memory alive. The Indians wear a No. 5 patch on their uniforms in honor of Bennett and some players have even shaved their fallen teammate's number into their hair.
Former McEachern standout Demarius Matthews will be carrying Bennett's memory with him tonight when he suits up for the Georgia State football team in its inaugural game at the Georgia Dome. Matthews requested to wear No. 5 to honor his friend, and the Panthers' coaches were more than happy to comply.
"Rajaan represented so many things," Hockman said, "but most of all he respected others so much. He had a great attitude and a love for life, so we just want to honor him and show support for his family and for what he stood.
"The team has adopted the phrase 'Keep 5 Alive' to honor his way of living. He was very humble and the players try to live their lives the way he lived his; with gratitude, respect and caring."
On Saturday, another service will be held in Bennett's honor, beginning at 8 a.m. at the track facility at the back of the McEachern campus. Narjaketha Bennett will be holding a walk-a-thon and rally to help raise money for the foundation she started in Rajaan's name.