Tuesday, April 29, 2008

2009 Spotlight: Cierre Wood

Texas' class is nearly finished with 17 commits. LSU is off to a great start with 10 verbals. The USC Trojans easily have the most bang for their buck with all 10 of their commitments likely falling in the AC100. Even Butch Davis and North Carolina have 11 strong pledges for 2009.

Notre Dame - until this weekend - had only one. And it really didn't count anyway.

Jake Golic, son of ESPN radio's Mike Golic, had been committed for a few weeks. Mike played at Notre Dame and Jake's brother, Mike Jr., was a member of Notre Dame's 2008 class. So it really wasn't shocking that Jake committed to the Irish.

This weekend, however, Charlie Weis and company stepped it up a bit.

New Jersey defensive tackle Tyler Stockton jumped aboard. The 6'1" 290-pound tackle is one of the top players in the underrated Garden State. Interior defensive line is certainly a spot of concern for Irish fans so Stockton is a great addition.

But that still was not the news of the weekend in South Bend. Yes, Jimmy Claussen looked good in the spring game but it was a running back from Oxnard, Calif. that made waves.

Santa Clara High School's Cierre Wood, the nation's top running back prospect, was in South Bend over the weekend and announced that he will be attending Notre Dame University.

The 6-foot, 195-pound tailback is something that the Irish desperately need: a home run threat. Charlie Weis has done a great job of adding depth to his backfield. However, names like Robert Hughes and Jonas Gray, albeit highly ranked and very talented, are bigger, more bruising style of runners. They will run between the tackles and do it very well. But none of the current running backs at Notre Dame are big play threats, though. Wood changes that immediately.

Wood has great speed and acceleration. Once he sees the hole, especially if it is on the outside, he explodes through a crease. He can score from anywhere on the field. Although he could add some size and bulk, he has a surprisingly strong lower body that allows him to run through most arm tackles. Balance, vision and cutting are all very strong aspects of his game. He can make people miss in the open field and quickly get back to full speed - generally leaving defenders flailing at air.

Wood will also be a solid receiving option from out of the backfield. He can get vertical in a hurry, putting a lot of pressure on linebackers who will likely be unable to keep up in the open field.

The only issue with Wood's game is that striaght-line, between the tackles yards will be tough to come by in high Division-1 football. As mentioned earlier, he shows good strength, but runs a bit high and is not incredibly thick. The great news for Irish fans is that he will not be asked to fill that role. Guys like Hughes and Gray will be the ones picking up the 4th-and-one's.

Wood in action:

No comments: