Notre Dame suspends Cierre Wood, Justin Utupo two games

Notre Dame suspends Cierre Wood, Justin Utupo two games
August 26, 2012, 5:27 pm
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Notre Dame has suspended running back Cierre Wood, NBC Sports' Keith Arnold first reported earlier Sunday afternoon. Coach Brian Kelly later announced Wood, along with defensive end Justin Utupo, will be suspended for the team's first two games of the 2012 season against Navy and Purdue.

Ourplayers are aware of the standards I set for our program and that failure tomeet my expectations will result in consequences, Kelly said in a statement. Justin andCierre violated our team rules so Ive suspended them for the first two gamesof the season.

Wood led Notre Dame with 1,102 rushing yards in 2011, scoring nine touchdowns on 217 attempts. He was likely slated as the team's No. 1 running back heading into the 2012 season.

The Irish aren't without depth at running back, though, as George Atkinson III and Theo Riddick were expected to see increased roles this season. Atkinson III, a sophomore, saw limited time in 2011 while Riddick has been moved into a running backwide receiver hybrid role for the season.

Wood, a senior, is one of the last remaining players who were recruited by Charlie Weis' staff. He told last September that he considered transferring after a frustrating freshman season, but wanted to prove to the new regime that he was worthy of playing time.

"I was a little salty about it," Wood said. "I really didn't want to be here, because who really wants to if you're not playing.

"I never lost my love of the game, I just wanted to take my talents somewhere else."

But Wood stuck things out at Notre Dame, and was expected to be part of a three-headed running back monster this year -- especially important given the inexperience of starting quarterback Everett Golson.

"I've seen great growth in George Atkinson," coach Brian Kelly said earlier in fall camp. "We always look to George as somebody that maybe he's just a running back. Well, he's really evolved into somebody that can catch the football for us.

"We know about Theo, obviously with his stint at the wide receiver position, and Cierre has really made great strides over the past 10 days or so. They're all going to play, and it would not be a surprise if a couple of them are on the field at the same time."