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July 21, 2008
PAISLEY, Fla. - Call Cierre Wood a believer.
He believes in himself, his decision to play college football at Notre Dame and the direction of the Fighting Irish. And, despite already being one of the nation's top prospects, he believes even better times are ahead.
Wood, a five-star prospect from Santa Clara (Calif.) Oxnard High School, certainly did not disappoint at the Top Gun Showcase Camp.
"He's something special," said Top Gun running back coach and former NFL star Lorenzo White. "Cierre is a good kid and he's strong. He's got some great feet and some explosion. He also has some great hands and many skills. Cierre Wood has a bright future, as all of these running backs here do."
Over the past two seasons, Wood has rushed for more than 4,000 yards and scored 51 touchdowns. As a sophomore, he averaged 12 yards per carry, then upped that to 14.7 yards per carry last season. Still, that's not enough for Wood, who arrived at the Top Gun camp to compete against some of the best backs in the nation and learn from guys who have been there before him.
"This has been a wonderful experience," Wood said. "I mean, I think we all learned something every day. For me, it was little things: fundamentals, tactics, running on different surfaces and footwork. Coach White is real laid-back and a good teacher."
Now it's back to California for the Rivals.com No. 3 overall prospect and the nation's top running back. He is days away from fall practice and his final season playing high school ball.
"My goals are to have a good season, stay healthy and win the (state title). I just have to stay focused and keep working hard."
There likely are even better days ahead for Wood as a senior. Then he'll starts all over again in South Bend, Ind. He hopes to help Notre Dame get turned around, something he sees happening while he plays for the Fighting Irish.
"I honestly believe that I made the best decision for me," he said. "I think I fit in real well there, especially with the scheme they run. It's something very similar to what we run at my high school. Plus, I can be a good receiver out of the backfield and catch the ball, too. Like I said, it's a good fit and situation for me, and it's a place where I feel real comfortable.
"We are going to be good and Notre Dame football will be back. And I guarantee that we will beat USC the next three years."