Notre Dame Football: How Cierre Wood Going Pro Impacts Irish's 2013 Offense

Randy ChambersAnalyst IJanuary 14, 2013

Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood was expected to take his talents to the NFL, and today he made his decision official, as Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune reported.

"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," said Martine Robertson, Wood's stepfather.

Wood was second on the team last year with 742 rushing yards. He also averaged 6.5 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns on the ground.

With that type of production, you would assume that this is a move that will hurt the 2013 Notre Dame offense, but it actually may benefit it. The Irish will be loaded at the running back position with guys such as Amir Carlisle, Greg Bryant and George Atkinson fighting for playing time in the backfield. An extra-talented runner has never hurt, but it would have added another player that was taking carries away from the three main runners.

Bryant is one of the top running back recruits from the 2013 class and could end up earning the starting role during camp. Unlike Wood, Bryant isn't the fastest guy in the world, but he does provide that tough style of running to an offense that was more finesse last season. He rarely goes down on initial contact and is known for consistently breaking arm tackles.

Bryant should be able to carry a heavy workload in his first season and could be another freshman phenomenon at the running back position.

Carlisle is a USC transfer who was eligible to play last season, but due to an ankle injury he suffered during last spring, he decided to take a redshirt. With some time off to learn the playbook and see how things are done in Notre Dame, Carlisle should be ready to go. His elusiveness in the open field and ability to make defenders miss is worth the price of admission.

The former top recruit of the 2011 class also has great hands and can help the Irish in the passing game. Overall, he is a great piece to go along with the power that Bryant provides and should be featured on many highlight-reel plays next year.

Atkinson is the most experienced of the bunch, as he will be entering his junior year. Often the forgotten man on the roster, Atkinson is another speedy and versatile player. Despite seeing limited action last season, he finished with 361 rushing yards, averaged seven yards a carry and scored five touchdowns. He has also been productive on special teams in each of the last two seasons.

How much the Notre Dame offense is going to improve will rely on the development of quarterback Everett Golson. If he can become that playmaker with the ball in his hands and hurt defenses more with his feet, the Irish should drastically increase last year’s 25.8 points-per-game average.

Even with the loss of Wood, running back is not a position that Notre Dame should be worried about. This is easily one of the deepest backfields in the country, and as long as everybody remains healthy, Notre Dame will once again have a successful ground game.