West Practice: Notre Dame Commits Update

SAN ANTONIO – As members of the West team, three pieces of Notre Dame's future offense hit the practice field at the Blossom Athletic Center in preparation for this Saturday's Army All-American Bowl.

Five-star running back Cierre Wood, five-star offensive guard Chris Watt and four-star receiver Shaquelle Evans began building a bond as future Irish teammates, during their first two-a-day practice setup since fall camp prior to their senior seasons.

Scout.com recruiting analyst Greg Powers was in attendance, and talked about each of the three.

Watt certainly impressed Powers, especially when he injured one of his own teammates in practice.

"Chris Watt, he's right there with D.J. Fluker as the most intimidating guys on the West offensive line," Powers said of the 6-foot-4, 284-pound Glen Ellyn, Ill., product. "He was working with the ones right off the bat, I don't think there is any question he'll be starting.

"Nasty, that's the only way that you can really describe his game. Saturday, hopefully he doesn't beat his own guys up too much (Irish verbal commits Tyler Stockton and Zeke Motta suit up for the East defense), one of the defensive linemen from the West already got hurt, and Chris Watt is definitely a guy that could hurt somebody else. He's nasty in between the tackles, I love his disposition, and for playing that way, you see a lot of guys that get out on their toes and they can't drive block as well, but not Chris, he stays back, he's balanced and he's mean.

"Notre Dame got a hell of a player in him."

Powers thinks the Irish got the same in the 6-foot, 196-pound Wood.

"Cierre Wood, when he walked off the bus, he looks like an NFL type of player," Powers said. "His body is just fantastic. In this type of setting, you're not going to get a chance initially just to show how good of a running back you are, because they're working on plays and stuff like that. They're not doing a lot of pounding, a lot of grinding, in between the tackles, that type of thing. I think when it comes down to money time, that Cierre Wood is a guy, because he hits the hole and he goes, he's not a guy that's going to do a lot of dancing. They've got another back on the team, Christine Michael, that really looks good running the ball, but he does a lot of dancing, and that isn't going to pick up a lot of yardage. Cierre Wood is a guy that gets it and he goes. So I think whenever it gets down to crunch time, that he's a guy that can probably step up, and he's probably the best back on the team, I would venture to say right now. Chris Whaley has a nice frame, and Christine Michael looks good running the ball, but pound for pound, Cierre Wood is probably the best guy.

That's quite a compliment considering Wood showed up in San Antonio in basketball shape and not football condition. The Oxnard, Calif., product hasn't been on the gridiron since he tried to play a few downs in Santa Clara's playoff loss in November.

"If that's the case, then he was shaking off the rust fairly quick," Powers said. "It makes a lot of sense too, because he started off slow, he didn't do a whole lot in the morning practice, but as things started to heat up, he started to look a little bit better."

Evans, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound receiver out of Inglewood, Calif., is trying to shake off a strained muscle injury in his leg that he suffered in the Hawaiian/Polynesian-Mainland All-Star game before Christmas.

"He looked okay," Powers said. "He wasn't a guy that really jumped out and grabbed your attention right at first because you had guys going through the drills like Rueben Randle, rated by one of the services as the top player in the country, and he's a top-15 player by Scout.com. He's a beast.

"Then you have Shaquelle that is slowly integrating himself in. I think he is a different type of receiver, and you come to these All-American games, and you see these guys making one-on-one plays because they're big and long and rangy, and they can go up and get the ball. Shaquelle is more of a cut and route running guy. I think as things progress, we'll have to see what he does down the line."

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