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Notre Dame RB Cierre Wood to enter NFL draft

Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood during first half an NCAA college football game against BYU South Bend Ind. Saturday

Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the BYU in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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Updated: February 16, 2013 6:26AM



Running back Cierre Wood will forgo his final season of eligibility at Notre Dame and enter the NFL draft, the university said Monday.

Wood rushed for 1,102 yards as a sophomore before being suspended for the first two games of the 2012 season for unspecified violations of team policy. When Wood returned to the Irish, Theo Riddick had established himself as the starting running back.

Wood averaged 11 carries per game for Notre Dame this season, but he broke runs of 62 yards against Oklahoma and 64 yards against Wake Forest. His average of 6.7 yards per carry was 14th-best in the nation.

Woods’ 2,447 yards makes him the seventh-leading rusher in school history. No Irish running back with as many career rushes has a better yards-per-rush average than his 5.4 mark.

‘‘Having to make a decision whether to stay in school or leave to pursue a lifelong dream of playing in the NFL is never simple,’’ Wood said in a statement. ‘‘I had to weigh many factors over the last month, but ultimately it came down to what I felt was the right decision that would most benefit my family. With that in mind, I’m leaving Notre Dame and am entering my name for this year’s NFL draft.’’

With Riddick graduating and Wood turning pro, the bulk of the rushing duties next season will fall to George Atkinson III. Atkinson is one of the fastest players on the Irish roster but was used sparingly at running back this past season.

‘‘Cierre has been an important member of our football team in my three years at Notre Dame, and I appreciate all he did to help get our program back on top,’’ coach Brian Kelly said. ‘‘I wish him well in the future and hope he has a successful playing career at the next level.’’



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