Notre Dame RB Cierre Wood to enter NFL Draft

Notre Dame will now have to replace its two leading rushers next season. (US Presswire)

Notre Dame might have been able to keep Brian Kelly from leaving for the NFL, but it won't be able to do the same with running back Cierre Wood

The Irish running back announced Monday that he would be forgoing his final year of eligibility at Notre Dame to enter the NFL Draft.

“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."

Wood finished the 2012 season as Notre Dame's second-leading rusher. He rushed for 742 yards and four touchdowns while averaging an impressive 6.5 yards per carry. However, like many members of the Notre Dame offense, Wood struggled against Alabama, rushing for only two yards on four carries.

NFLDraftScout.com projects Wood as a seventh-round draft pick.

Making matters worse for the Irish is the fact that the team's leading rusher, Theo Riddick, is a senior and will not be back in 2013 either, which means the Irish are losing 1,659 yards from their backfield this offseason. With both Wood and Riddick leaving, George Atkinson (51 carries, 361 yards) becomes Notre Dame's most experienced running back.

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CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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