Fresh off of his first career 1,000 yard season, senior running back Cierre Wood has found himself on Heisman Pundit’s pre-season Heisman Watch List making himself the first Irish running back to generate some pre-season Heisman buzz in years.
Wood grabbed hold of the starting running back position for Notre Dame at the end of 2010 after Armando Allen’s season came to an abrupt end due to a knee injury and he hasn’t let go of it since. Last year Wood shared the spotlight with Jonas Gray before his injury, but he still lead the Irish ground attack wracking up his first career 1,000 yard season in the process.
By the end of the season, Wood put together a 1,102 yard season with 9 touchdowns while recording his three 100 yard performance along the way. The highlight of his season in week 5 when Wood terrorized the Purdue defense to the tune of 191 yards on 20 carries all highlighted by a 55 yard touchdown run in Notre Dame’s 38-10 victory over the Boilermakers.
Heading into this season, Wood will once again pace the Irish ground attack even with Theo Riddick moving back to running back and sophomore George Atkinson III starting to emerge as a playmaker for Notre Dame. Another 1,000+ yard season is certainly not out of the question for Wood in 2012. In fact, its entirely possible for Wood who slowed down towards the end of 2011.
Three Notre Dame opponents – all quarterbacks – are also on Heisman Pundit’s Watch List. Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, Michigan’s Denard Robinson, and USC’s Matt Barkley are all included in their list. Notre Dame has faced Barkely and Robinson a combined three times throughout their careers – all Notre Dame losses.