Cierre Wood, Notre Dame’s leading rusher each of the past two seasons, has been suspended for the first two weeks of the season for violating team rules per a University release along with junior reserve defensive lineman Justin Utupo.
“Our players are aware of the standards I set for our program and that failure to meet my expectations will result in consequences. Justin and Cierre violated our team rules so I’ve suspended them for the first two games of the season,” said head coach Brian Kelly per the release.
Earlier this week Wood was named to Heisman Pundit’s Watch list and is still expected to pace the Irish ground attack this season once he is done serving his suspension. Any chance for making much noise in the Heisman race, however, would seem to be unlikely.
Converted wide receiver Theo Riddick, who originally started his career at running back, will start in Wood’s absence against Navy this weekend and Purdue next weekend in the home opener. Sophomore George Atkinson III meanwhile will back up Riddick. Cam McDaniel, another player who started his career at running back before making a temporary switch will provide additional depth.
One player who won’t be seeing much action in place of Wood is sophomore transfer Amir Carlisle. On top of missing all of spring practice with an ankle injury, the USC transfer has yet to be 100% in fall camp.
Notre Dame now has four players suspended who will not be making the trip with the team to Dublin for the season opener on Saturday with Wood and Utupo joining Tommy Rees and Carlo Calabrese – both of whom are only suspended for week one due to their off-season arrests.