Tuesday, April 22, 2008

CW lands CW | by Pat

Really, we're starting to get spoiled here. For the third straight year, a 5-star recruit from California publicly committed to the Irish during the Blue-Gold Game weekend. (Ok, technically Dayne Crist went public the day before he flew out, but I'm counting it). Following in the footsteps of Clausen and Crist, Oxnard running back Cierre Wood ended the suspense and announced his choice for the Fighting Irish on Saturday. Wood is the second recruit in the Class of 2009 and a huge get for any program, let alone an Irish one coming off a 3-9 season.

As one might expect, Wood's high school coach is effusive in his praise of his star player.

"He's a special player," said the Saints' fourth-year coach. "He not only is a great talent, he has the heart of a champion. He's willing to work hard and he's a good person, too."
With offers from schools like Southern Cal, Florida, Nebraska, Auburn, and UCLA, Wood narrowed his choice down to the Bruins and the Irish before his trip. His mom accompanied him on the trip out for the Blue-Gold game weekend -- getting the mom on campus is always one of ND's main recruiting goals -- and Wood liked what he saw enough to make things official.
"I just feel comfortable," said Wood, who on Saturday picked the Irish over UCLA, "and felt like I needed to be there."
This is just fantastic news as the 6'0" 195 pound Wood is the highest ranked running back recruit to pick ND since the rivals and scout started their databases in 2002. On rivals.com, Wood is the #1 running back and #3 player overall in the nation. On scout.com he's the #3 RB and #19 recruit overall. If you want to get a glimpse of him in action, here are a few options. His highlights on rivals are long, but only of his sophomore year, when he was named California Sophomore Player of the Year. The Southern Cal recruiting site on ESPN has some new film on him as well that is worth checking out. Youtube has a few quick highlights from one of his junior year games.

One common trait mentioned in the various write-ups on Wood is that he's an athlete first and running back second. In fact, when StudentSports named him a 1st Team Nike Underclass All-American, they put him in the "athlete" slot rather than as the running back. Some reviews even mention that he could be equally adept at playing safety in college as running back, ala Tony Driver. For his high school, Wood plays just about anywhere he's needed.
The Santa Clara High standout lines up at running back, of course. But he also regularly plays wide receiver on offense and cornerback and free safety on defense. When the special teams are on the field, Wood is the punter, punt returner and kick returner.
I realize it's a fools errand to look at high school stats and try to extrapolate out any type of college production. Still, it's hard to read things like the following and not look forward to what he might do while wearing an ND uniform.
Ventura County Star
Stardom came calling for the junior running back in 2007. Wood scored 42 touchdowns, rushed for 2,612 yards on a mere 178 carries [BGS ed note: that's 14.7 yards per carry], caught seven passes for 191 yards, excelled at cornerback with 50 tackles and three interceptions and, oh yes, led his program to its first CIF-Southern Section championship in 42 years.

L.A. Times Varsity Insider Blog

This guy's a player: Another amazing performance by all-everything Cierre Wood of Santa Clara. Wood rushed for 151 yards (giving him 408 in the last two games), scored three TDs, intercepted two passes and blocked a punt in the Saints’ 33-7 victory over Flintridge Prep.

Ventura County Star
, again
Wood had a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 63-yard TD run in the first quarter, and a 12-yard TD run in the second. The sensation junior would have three more touchdowns, but they were called back because of penalties.
The accolades and gaudy stats will likely continue to pour in for Wood next year and he should keep his 5-star status as the ever turbulent recruiting rankings do their usual reshuffling over the next few months. In the meantime, Wood's name and shiny 5-star status under the"Notre Dame commit" list will be a big boon to the Irish recruiting effort. Jake Golic kicked off the class but Wood will lend the star power that will make it easier for the coaches to sell ND as they cross the country during the spring evaluation period now underway.