Cierre Wood

Record number of underclassmen enter NFL draft

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We’ve been keeping track of underclassmen who have declared for this year’s NFL draft. This morning, the NFL released its list of 73 underclassmen who have been granted “special eligibility” for the draft by being at least three years removed from high school before declaring.

That number is a new record, breaking the one held in 2012 with 65 underclassmen declaring. In 2011, 56 players left early and 53 took off in 2010. In fact, the 73 who declared this year is 30 more than in 2004.

Of the 73 players, 33 come from SEC schools, or began their careers at SEC schools. That’s far and away the most of any conference. LSU has 11 underclassmen with ties to the program represented.

You can view the NFL’s release HEREbut here’s the alphabetized list.

Keenan Allen WR, California
David Amerson DB, North Carolina State
Alvin Bailey G, Arkansas
Stedman Bailey WR, West Virginia
David Bakhtiari T, Colorado
Dwayne Beckford LB, Purdue
Le’Veon Bell RB, Michigan State
Giovani Bernard RB, North Carolina
Tyler Bray QB,Tennessee
Terrence Brown DB, Stanford
Duron Carter WR, Ohio State
Knile Davis RB, Arkansas
Mike Edwards DB, Hawaii
Matt Elam DB, Florida
Zach Ertz TE, Stanford
Gavin Escobar TE, San Diego State
Chris Faulk T, Louisiana State
Sharrif Floyd DT, Florida
Michael Ford RB, Louisiana State
Travis Frederick C, Wisconsin
Kwame Geathers NT, Georgia
William Gholston DE, Michigan State
Johnathan Hankins DT, Ohio State
Jajuan Harley DB, Middle Tennessee
DeAndre HopkinsWR, Clemson
Justin Hunter WR, Tennessee
Jawan Jamison RB, Rutgers
Stefphon Jefferson RB, Nevada
Tony Jefferson DB, Oklahoma
Jelani Jenkins LB, Florida
Luke Joeckel T, Texas A&M
Jarvis Jones LB, Georgia
Jose Jose DT, Central Florida
Joe Kruger DE, Utah
Eddie Lacy RB, Alabama
Marcus Lattimore RB, South Carolina
Corey Lemonier DE, Auburn
Bennie Logan DT, Louisiana State
Stansly Maponga DE, Texas Christian
Tyrann Mathieu DB, Louisiana State
Dee Milliner DB, Alabama
Barkevious Mingo DE, Louisiana State
Kevin Minter LB, Louisiana State
Sam Montgomery DE, Louisiana State
Brandon Moore DT, Texas
Damontre Moore DE, Texas A&M
Alec Ogletree LB, Georgia
Cordarrelle Patterson WR, Tennessee
Bradley Randle RB, Nevada-Las Vegas
Joseph Randle RB, Oklahoma State
Jordan Reed TE, Florida
Eric Reid DB, Louisiana State
Greg Reid DB, Florida State
Xavier Rhodes DB, Florida State
Sheldon Richardson DT, Missouri
Nickell Robey DB, Southern California
Logan Ryan DB, Rutgers
Ace Sanders WR, South Carolina
Darrington Sentimore DT, Tennessee
Tharold Simon DB, Louisiana State
Dion Sims TE, Michigan State
Akeem Spence DT, Illinois
Kenny Stills WR, Oklahoma
Levine Toilolo TE, Stanford
Spencer Ware RB, Louisiana State
Menelik Watson T, Florida State
Bjoern Werner DE, Florida State
Steve Williams DB, California
Marquess Wilson WR, Washington State
Brad Wing P, Louisiana State
Cierre Wood RB, Notre Dame
Robert Woods WR, Southern California
Tom Wort LB, Oklahoma

Updated: Cierre Wood to add his name to the NFL draft pool

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Coach Brian Kelly is staying at Notre Dame for at least another year. Running back Cierre Wood is not.

Wood’s mother and stepfather confirmed to Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune that the Notre Dame running back would forego his final year of eligibility and declare for the NFL draft. ESPN’s Joe Schad reported that Wood was going to declare earlier this morning.

The move shouldn’t be all that surprising. Wood’s mother told the Tribune in November that he was about “70-30” leaning toward leaving.

“I just know that him and his mother discussed it, and it’s something he was ready for, and she said she was going to back him up on any decision he made,” Wood’s stepfather told the paper.

Notre Dame is expected to release a statement on Wood’s decision shortly.

The redshirt junior would finish his career with 2,447 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was the team’s second-leading rusher this season with 742 yards, but had just two in a BCS championship loss to Alabama. Wood was suspended the first two games of the 2012 season for “violating team rules.”

For more on what Wood’s departure means for the Irish, check out Keith Arnold‘s blog at Inside the Irish.

Updated 2:45 p.m. ET: As expected, Wood released a statement through the university this afternoon confirming his intentions to declare for the draft. He will exit the program as its seventh-leading rusher of all time.

“Having to make a decision like whether to stay in school or leave to pursue a lifelong dream of playing in the NFL is never simple,” Wood said. “I had to weigh many factors over the last month, but ultimately it came down to what I felt was the right decision that would most benefit my family. With that in mind, I’m leaving Notre Dame and am entering my name for this year’s NFL Draft.

“There are so many people I need to thank that have helped get me to this point. My teammates are friends I know I’ll have the rest of my life. I’ll miss hanging out with them in the locker room and around campus. They are a great group of guys and are poised for success next year.

“I also want to thank all of the coaches, specifically Coach Kelly and Coach Alford. Coach Kelly has the program heading in the right direction and I’m happy to know he’ll remain our head coach in the future. Coach Alford has been so much more than a coach to me. He’s been a mentor and a role model. He’s helped turn me into the man I am today.

“Lastly, I want to thank the school, our fans and the extended Notre Dame family. The love and appreciation you’ve shown me in my four years can never be repaid. I’ll always remember the ovation I received as I ran out of the tunnel on senior day and I can’t thank you enough.”

Brian Kelly also stated:

Cierre has been an important member of our football team in my three years at Notre Dame and I appreciate all he did to help get our program back on top. I wish him well in the future and hope he has a successful playing career at the next level.”

What went wrong for Notre Dame in its loss to Alabama?

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The only questions Alabama players and coaches will answer following another BCS championship game victory will be 1) who will be going pro (see what we did there? That’s a Nick Saban joke.) and 2) how do they feel about the term “dynasty?”

The questions Notre Dame must answer are more difficult and unwelcome.

Though ranked No. 2 in the country entering tonight’s game, the Tide was a 10-point favorite over the Irish, so the general storylines were more closely geared toward what Brian Kelly‘s program needed to do to win its first national title in over 20 years.

It started up front along the offensive and defensive lines. The trenches. Alabama’s O-line is anchored by All-American center Barrett Jones and has paved the way for one of the best rushing attacks in the nation while keeping the jersey of its quarterback, A.J. McCarron, clean. McCarron had just three interceptions on the season, a compliment not only to his decision-making, but the time he was given to make those decisions.

Notre Dame’s front seven needed to be able to disrupt Alabama’s run-first game plan without the help of an additional body in the box. Instead, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon ran for most of the Tide’s 265 yards on the ground. When Notre Dame was able to get penetration up front, missed tackles and bad angles allowed Lacy and Yeldon to use their athleticism to get past the initial rush. For McCarron? He went 20-of-28 for 264 yards and four touchdowns. It wasn’t exactly chaos in Alabama’s backfield.

With little pressure up front, Notre Dame’s linebacker unit and secondary got torched in one-on-one matchups with Alabama’s skill players. Linebacker Manti Te’0 wasn’t the only Irish defender getting embarrassed, but considering his postseason accolades and role on the team, he was getting the most negative attention. Tape from the 2012 season shows that Te’o had only two missed tackles all year. He might have had two in one quarter tonight.

It was undisciplined defense all around and Alabama was so balanced and multiple on offense that it didn’t seem fair.

And Notre Dame’s offense hasn’t shown the quick-strike ability consistently to mount a comeback even if the defense stiffened up. The Irish have been flighty on that side of the ball all season as Everett Golson kept developing at quarterback and there were times when Tommy Rees had to step in to keep things going. But when Notre Dame clicked on offense, namely against Oklahoma and Miami, it has the playmakers in Tyler Eifert, Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick and TJ Jones to put up a lot of points.

Notre Dame had to have an offensive performance similar to the one it had in October against the Sooners. That didn’t happen either. Alabama’s defense under coordinator Kirby Smart did a nice job of disrupting Golson all night. There was no tempo, no rhythm for Kelly’s team.

Plus, the Irish probably needed either a big mistake from Alabama or an exceptional special teams play — something to swing field position or momentum for a quick and easy score. Not only was Notre Dame not able to take advantage of any mistakes, but it didn’t benefit from early judgement calls from the officials either (the Eifert catch out-of-bounds and Christion Jones muffed punt come to mind). With injuries to Louis Nix and Kapron Lewis-Moore along the D-line, the Irish couldn’t even catch a break on the injury front. Meanwhile, Barrett Jones played the entire game with a Lisfranc injury and never left the field.

That kind of night. Nothing went right for the Irish. Yes, Alabama was clearly the better team, but the Tide was also far more prepared and executed its game plan perfectly.

Now, it’ll be a long eight months as Kelly and his coaching staff look for some answers.

Pair of Notre Dame interior linemen coming back for one more year

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As it turns out, the BCS championship game against Alabama next month will not be the final game in a Notre Dame uniform for offensive lineman Zack Martin and nose tackle Louis Nix. In news that will surely please more than a few Notre Dame fans, coach Brian Kelly announced Monday that the two interior linemen would return for their senior season.

Both players were key contributors at their respective positions. Martin helped the Irish rush for over 200 yards a game and Nix (pictured as Santa because it’s the holidays, y’all) was a chore to move along Notre Dame’s defensive front, recording 45 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble.

Notre Dame had one of the best defenses in college football, and was No. 3 in rushing yards allowed and first in points allowed.

Kelly also said that running back Cierre Wood is undecided on his NFL future and will seek a draft evaluation before making a decision.

2012-13 Underclassmen Draft Declarations Tracker

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In an effort to keep all of the underclassmen declarations in one handy, easy-to-find location, we’ve created this page and will update it as the official word comes down that a player is leaving collegiate eligibility on the table and making the early leap to the NFL. The deadline for draft-eligible players to officially file their paperwork with the NFL is January 15.

Last year, a record 65 draft-eligible underclassmen left school early.  That shattered the record of 56 set the previous season.

So, without further ado, on to the tracker…

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Tyler Bray, Tennessee (1/4/2013)
Kyle Padron, Eastern Washington (1/13/2013)

RUNNING BACKS (11)

Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State (1/3/2013)
Giovani Bernard
***
, North Carolina (12/14/2012)
Knile Davis
**
, Arkansas (12/12/2012)
Michael Ford**, LSU (1/7/2013)
Jawan Jamison***, Rutgers (1/5/2013)
Stefphon Jefferson**, Nevada (12/31/2012)
Eddie Lacy**, Alabama (1/11/2013)
Marcus Lattimore
, South Carolina (12/12/2012)
Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State (1/10/2013)
Spencer Ware, LSU (1/4/2013)
Cierre Wood**, Notre Dame (1/14/2013)

WIDE RECEIVERS (12)

Keenan Allen, Cal (12/6/2012)
Stedman Bailey**, West Virginia (12/17/2012)
Josh Boyce**, TCU (1/9/2013)
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson (1/10/2013)
Justin Hunter, Tennessee (12/17/2012)
Brandon Kaufman, Eastern Washington (1/13/2013)
Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee (1/9/2013)
Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech (12/13/2012)
Ace Sanders, South Carolina (1/15/2013)
Kenny Stills, Oklahoma (1/7/2013)
Marquess Wilson, Washington State (1/11/2013)
Robert Woods, USC (12/31/2012)

TIGHT ENDS (6)

Tyler Eifert**, Notre Dame (1/8/2013)
Zach Ertz
**
, Stanford (1/7/2013)
Gavin Escobar
**
, San Diego State (1/7/2013)
Jordan Reed
**
, Florida (1/4/2013)
Dion Sims
**, Michigan State (1/3/2013)
Levine Toilolo**, Stanford (1/7/2013)

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Alvin Bailey**, Arkansas ((12/20/2012)
David Bakhtiari
**
, Colorado (1/9/2013)
Chris Faulk**, LSU (1/9/2013)
D.J. Fluker**, Alabama (1/11/2013)
Travis Frederick
**
, Wisconsin (1/5/2013)
Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M (1/8/2013)
Justin Pugh
**, Syracuse (1/3/2013)
Menelik Watson, Florida State (1/8/2013)
Tom Wort**, Oklahoma (1/9/2013)

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (17)

Sharrif Floyd, Florida (1/3/2013)
Kwame Geathers**, Georgia (1/9/2013)
William Gholston, Michigan State (1/5/2013)
Johnathan Hankins
, Ohio State (12/10/2012)
Brandon Jenkins
**
, Florida State (11/20/2012)
Joe Kruger, Utah (1/2/2013)
Corey Lemonier, Auburn (12/31/2012)
Bennie Logan**, LSU (1/7/2013)
Barkevious Mingo**, LSU (1/7/2013)
Sam Montgomery**, LSU (1/7/2013)
Brandon Moore, Texas (1/11/2013)
Damontre Moore, Texas A&M (12/30/2012)
Sheldon Richardson**, Missouri (11/30/2012)
Darrington Sentimore, Tennessee (1/9/2013)
Akeem Spence**, Illinois (12/21/2012)
Stansly Maponga**, (1/15/2013)
Bjoern Werner, Florida State (1/3/2013)

LINEBACKERS (4)

Jelani Jenkins**, Florida (1/7/2013)
Jarvis Jones
**
, Georgia (1/4/2013)
Kevin Minter
**
, LSU (1/3/2013)
Alec Ogletree
, Georgia (1/1/2013)

DEFENSIVE BACKS (13)

David Amerson, North Carolina State (1/5/2013)
Terrence Brown
**
, Stanford (1/8/2013)
Mike Edwards
**
, Hawaii (1/2/2013)
Matt Elam, Florida (1/3/2013)
Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma (1/7/2013)
Tyrann Mathieu
*
, formerly of LSU (11/29/2012)
Dee Milliner, Alabama (1/11/2013)
Eric Reid, LSU (1/4/2013)
Xavier Rhodes**, Florida State (1/2/2012)
Nickell Robey, USC 1/13/2013)
Logan Ryan**, Rutgers (12/31/2012)
Tharold Simon, LSU (1/4/2013)
Steve Williams**, Cal (1/8/2013)

PUNTERS/KICKERS (1)

Brad Wing***, LSU (1/4/2013)

(*Mathieu was dismissed by LSU and did not play his true junior season in 2012)
(**denotes fourth-year junior)
(***denotes third-year sophomore)