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Notre Dame

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BCS
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Associated Press
Notre Dame’s Cierre Wood sat out the first two games this season because of a violation of team rules. He had 740 yards with four touchdowns.

Former top back mum on his plans

– Two people know what Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood’s future will be after the No. 1 Irish (12-0) play No. 2 Alabama (12-1) in the BCS championship game Monday.

And neither one is talking.

One won’t say anything because she can’t, and the other is not ready to discuss it publicly.

Wood said Saturday during the BCS championship media day at Sun Life Stadium that he has told his one-year-old daughter, Braelyn, if he will return for a fifth season at Notre Dame or enter the NFL draft.

But that is the only person he has shared his decision with going into the title game.

“I really haven’t talked about it with my family yet,” Wood said. “It’s just been something I’ve been thinking about on my own. I’ll make that decision when I feel the time is right.”

Wood, who didn’t play as a freshman, didn’t start this season on a good note.

He had to sit out the first two games of the season because of a violation of team rules.

When he returned, it was to a stable of running backs that included 5-11, 200-pound senior Theo Riddick, who ran for a team-high 880 yards with five touchdowns on a team-high 180 carries, and 6-1, 210-pound sophomore George Atkinson III, who ran for 361 yards and five touchdowns on 51 carries.

Wood, a 6-foot, 200-pound senior, ran for 740 yards with four touchdowns on 110 carries this year.

His carries were cut nearly in half and he ran for 362 fewer yards than in 2011, when he ran for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns on 217 carries.

“There were some moments where we had to sit down and have some discussions just to get refocused on where we are going and why we are doing what we are doing and how it fits,” running backs coach Tony Alford said of Wood adjusting to a slightly smaller role this season.

“But he has been good, which says a lot about him. He helps his teammate and roommate in Theo and watched him progress and make plays. At the same time, his game has improved in a lot of areas, too.”

Wood said he has also improved on fitting in more at Notre Dame and choosing his words more carefully when talking to the media.

“I don’t really pop off like I used to,” Wood said.

“It was really hard. … That’s the way I’ve been raised my life, sometimes you got to do things you don’t want to do.”

He has had limited opportunities to talk to the media this season, but he said it is not because he is outspoken. It is just how things worked out this season.

“Whatever their reasons are, that’s what they are,” Wood said. “I have an idea, but that’s not important. They didn’t want me in there, so they didn’t want me in there.”

Wood will be in Monday’s title game at some point, and he will be ready to do everything he can to help Notre Dame win its first championship since 1988, even though he will be sharing the back field spotlight with two other running backs.

“There is so much talent in our back field, you get everybody on the field,” Wood said.

“Everybody gets a chance to score. Everybody gets a chance to shine.

“My mindset was we all have to do it. It is not me. It is not about I. It is about we. We are all going do to it. That’s what we have been doing since Day 1.”

tkrausz@jg.net

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