I met John through his parents, who are good friends of mine. For a high school student, his passion for and grasp of econometrics were so impressive that I _____ my econometrics research project that started last year.
I am looking for a neutral expression to be filled in the blank. My intended meaning is hiring someone not because of that person's ability but because of a social connection.
Here John was a high school student. The writer was a professor. Part of the reason the professor brought John into his research project is that the professor and John's parents were good friends.
I was thinking about "took him on in" and "brought him into". But I am not sure.