Despite Irish success, 2012 a 'tough' season for injured CB Wood

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Despite Irish success, 2012 a 'tough' season for injured CB Wood

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Lo Wood was supposed to anchor Notre Dame's cornerbacks this season as one of the only players at his position with any semblance of experience at it. In late August, Wood tore his Achilles tendon doing nothing more than backpedaling in practice.

When the injury occurred, it wasn't an overstatement to hypothesize Notre Dame's secondary was going to be a massive weak link in 2012. KeiVarae Russell wound up holding his own opposite Bennett Jackson's solid play -- good enough, at least, for Notre Dame to reach the BCS Championship with a bunch of greenhorns at cornerback.

"Once I found out I was out for the season, I was quiet for an hour wondering, like, dang, this could be a great season," Wood said. "And it turned out to be one. It's crazy how it happened."

Crazy would've been the word used to describe someone who thought Notre Dame could go 12-0 without Wood (of course, that could've been said for someone who thought the same thing of the Irish with Wood). Watching the Irish steadily work their way to No. 1 has helped soften the blow a bit for Wood, but the redshirt junior-to-be still described the last few months as "tough."

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Having to stand on the sidelines for practice was the most difficult aspect of missing the entire season, explained Wood.

"That's the hardest part, because all you want to do is be with the team and get better at the same time," he said. "Knowing you can't better yourself while you're own brothers are getting better too, it's really hard."

Wood's been a source of knowledge for Russell, who's still new to the position despite having about five months under his belt working at it. While the two may go against each other in the coming months for a starting spot alongside Jackson, Wood said he's been impressed by Russell's fortitude going into his uncharted waters.

"He came in and stood his ground, he didn't get pushed over or anything," Wood said.

If all goes according to plan, Wood will join his teammates for workouts later in January, and he anticipates being ready for spring practice in a few months. For now, Wood's relishing his first chance to go on the road with Notre Dame all year, having spent plenty of weeks watching from his home in South Bend.

And while he's not healthy enough to play, his injury has healed to the point where he could sprint on to the field to celebrate a National Championship.

"Oh yeah," Wood smiled. "It's pretty much healthy enough to do that."

DePaul basketball program on the rise after landing 5-star recruit Tyger Campbell

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AP

DePaul basketball program on the rise after landing 5-star recruit Tyger Campbell

DePaul hoops received a huge boost this week as five-star recruit Tyger Campbell committed to the university.

The elite point guard recruit out of La Lumiere, will join the Class of 2018, choosing DePaul over schools like Michigan State, Illinois and Memphis.

"I like DePaul and honestly my coach (Shane Heirman) just went there and we have a great connection and he's always had my back," Campbell told Scout.com. "I like [DePaul] coach Dave Leitao, too. I like his program and he's an intelligent guy.

"Mainly what I like about the school is I want to help bring it back. I love Chicago; it's a great city. I want to bring the city a college back to cheer for."

Campbell also said the Blue Demons' new Wintrust Arena at McCormick Place Event Center, which is slated to open this fall, is a big draw for him.

The Blue Demons are a combined 18-45 the last two seasons and hasven't had a winning season since 2006-07 when they went 20-14 and made the NIT Quarterfinals.

The program last made the NCAA Tournament in 2003-04 during Leitao's first stint as the team's head coach.

Northern Illinois adds running back Fotis Kokosioulis

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USA TODAY

Northern Illinois adds running back Fotis Kokosioulis

Northern Illinois University added it's fourth known verbal commitment today in its growing Class of 2018.

Maine South junior running back Fotis Kokosioulis (5-foot-8, 165 pounds) added an offer from the Huskies on Tuesday after making a spring practice visit, and today he gave head coach Rod Carey his verbal commitment.

"I chose NIU because it's been a school that I've liked for awhile now," Kokosioulis said moments ago. "I like the facilities at NIU, the stadium and everything else they have to offer. I also really like all the coaches at NIU. I felt that even if I got more offers I would've still chose NIU over other schools. I know that there are bigger school and programs but I feel that I just fit in well at NIU, so I committed."

Kokosioulis, who was an All-State performer for the Class 8A state champion Maine South Hawks in 2016, is now the fourth known in-state verbal commitment for Rod Carey and the Huskies and the fifth known commitment overall. Kokosioulis joins Andrew defensive end Mike DeHaan, Plainfield East defensive end Jack Sullivan and Danville tight end Julian Pearl in the NIU Huskies in-state Class of 2018.