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."