FORT WAYNE — Cierre Wood has decided not to return to Notre Dame for his final year of eligibility and will instead enter the NFL draft, the university announced Monday.
“Having to make a decision like whether to stay in school or leave to pursue a lifelong dream of playing in the NFL is never simple,” the running back 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.”
Wood has a 1-year-old daughter Braelyn, who lives with his mother Valerie Wood in Las Vegas. His decision was first reported by ESPN.
Wood joins tight end and Bishop Dwenger graduate Tyler Eifert as a player leaving the Irish with a year of eligibility remaining. Eifert announced his decision to leave for the NFL draft after Notre Dame’s 42-14 loss to Alabama in the BCS championship game.
Eifert is training at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and has signed with agent Tom Condon, according to his mother Julie. Linebacker Manti Te’o is also training at IMG, according to reports.
Wood, who did not play as a freshman, ran for 740 yards on 110 carries with four touchdowns this season. The 6-foot, 215-pounder ran for 2,445 yards with 16 touchdowns in three seasons.
Wood was suspended for the first two games this season and shared time in the backfield with Theo Riddick, who led the Irish with 880 rushing yards and five touchdowns in his final year of eligibility, as well as George Atkinson III.
The departure of Wood and graduation of Riddick leaves the Irish with few experienced players at running back.
Atkinson ran for 361 yards on 51 carries, averaging 7.1 yards per carry, with five touchdowns this season. Behind Atkinson, Notre Dame will turn to Amir Carlise, a transfer from USC who didn’t play this season after suffering a broken ankle in the offseason, Will Mahone and Cam McDaniel.
Mahone didn’t play this season, and McDaniel had 23 attempts for 125 yards this year.
Notre Dame is also bringing in two running backs in this year’s recruiting class. Greg Bryant is rated a five-star prospect by Rivals.com, and Tarean Folston is rated a four-star prospect.
Classes resume at Notre Dame today.