What has been known for weeks in South Bend was finally made public by the coaching staff on Sunday. Running back Cierre Wood and defensive lineman Justin Utupo have been suspended for the first two games for a violation of team rules. Wood and Utupo, along with previously suspended players Tommy Rees and Carlo Calabrese, will not travel with the team this week to Dublin, Ireland for Notre Dame's home opener against Navy. The Irish host Purdue in the second game of the season.
"Our players are aware of the standards I set for our program and that failure to meet my expectations will result in consequences," head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. "Justin and Cierre violated our team rules so I've suspended them for the first two games of the season."
Rees and Calabrese received a one-game suspension earlier this month after a May arrest.
Wood is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 14 ranked running back and has two years of eligibility remaining at the college level. He led the team in rushing last season with 1,102 yards on 217 carries (5.1 average) and nine touchdowns, adding 27 catches out of the backfield.
With Wood sitting out the first two contests, senior Theo Riddick and sophomore George Atkinson are expected to pick up the slack. Riddick, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 37 ranked wideout, transitioned from receiver to running back over the off-season, entering 2012 with only 54 career rushes (4.7 average). Atkinson had just nine carries last season as a freshman, but had a great off-season and is expected to see much more playing time this season.