(MCT) — CHICAGO — Word trickled out Sunday from Cierre Wood’s camp that the Notre Dame tailback had entered the final stages of deliberation about his future. Truth be told, just about everyone in his orbit long ago figured the process would end exactly as it did.
Wood is headed to the NFL draft, forgoing his final year of eligibility after amassing 2,447 yards, the seventh-best career total in Irish history. Though the school put out a release Monday afternoon, a text message from Wood’s mother, Valerie, to the Tribune hours earlier was a fitting official statement.
“Cali-bound,” she wrote, alluding to the West Coast headquarters for her son’s pre-draft training.
“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,” Cierre Wood said in a statement released by Notre Dame.
“My teammates are friends I know I’ll have the rest of my life. I’ll miss hanging out with them in the locker room and around campus. They are a great group of guys and are poised for success next year.”
It’s an unsurprising and somewhat untraditional early exit: The 6-foot, 215-pound Wood played three years but has been on campus for four after sitting out in 2009, so his degree is at hand. And supporting his 1-year-old daughter, Braelyn, was a factor.
In fact, Wood said at BCS media day Jan. 5 that he had his decision in mind but had told only Braelyn. Now his pre-draft work will aim to overcome any murmurs about a two-game suspension to start 2012 for violating team rules. Draft analyst Rob Rang pegged Wood as a fourth-rounder Monday.
“Wood is a naturally elusive runner with the burst to and through the hole, lateral agility to make defenders miss,” said Rang, a senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com. “These traits, along with good vision, speed and size, make him an intriguing NFL prospect with enough upside to warrant middle-round consideration.
“The 2013 draft is lacking a consensus top running back prospect. ... There is good depth at the position, however, which makes Wood’s leap a bit of a gamble. The difference between his being drafted in the third round or the sixth could come down to the performance he has in pre-draft workouts and the feedback teams receive when investigating his suspension.”