Notre Dame fans can bark about the results on the field, but they certainly can't complain about the effort the Irish staff has put toward recruiting. The Irish currently have the top rated recruiting class in the country, but they aren't sitting still. In fact, the Irish staff just extended a scholarship offer to running back Cierre Wood (6-foot-0, 195 pounds).
"Our athletic director told me that he was going to call Notre Dame, so he wanted me to come into his office when he called," Wood responded when asked to describe the events leading up to his scholarship offer. "He talked to them for a little bit and then I talked to coach Brian Polian. Then he put me on the phone with their head coach, Charlie Weis.
"Coach Weis said that he wanted to offer me a full scholarship to Notre Dame. I was really happy. In fact I was speechless. He told me about their graduation rate, and about the campus, He told me the school was pretty small. I didn't know that, I thought it was a lot bigger. He talked about how they were playing a lot for freshman and sophomores. I asked him if they had an architecture program, because that's what I want to major in. He said they had one and that freshman had to take five core classes. I was just happy that they had the major that I want to study.
"The offer came out of the blue, but I've been getting letters from them all the time," Wood said. "I really didn't think the offer would come, at least I didn't expect it. I really don't know much about the school or the football program. I've heard a lot about them, but I don't know all that much.
"I'm getting stuff from everywhere. I stuck my first letter up on my wall, but now I get so many I don't have time to read them. I've gotten to a point where I let my mom open all my letters. The offers are really exciting. I've never had this type of attention, so I'm just trying to handle it the best that I can."
San Diego State, Wake Forest, Nebraska, Florida, and USC are the other schools that have sent Wood a scholarship. While all of those schools are doing better on the field this season, Wood isn't concerned with what the Irish do in 2007.
"I'm not too concerned about their record," Wood said. "They actually kind of remind me of our team. My freshmen year, our JV team was real strong, but our varsity kind of struggled. My freshman year I moved up after the second game, and we started to improve from there. I think that is what Notre Dame is going through right now. They have a bunch of young guys that have to play. They only have nine seniors and the rest of the team is sophomores, freshman and some juniors.
"I'll definitely take a look at Notre Dame. I like that they have a high graduation rate, and I think that's great. At least when I leave school, I'll leave with a degree. My mom always says that I need to have a plan-B. That's why I want to study architecture and if things don't work out with football, I'll have my degree in architecture."
Cierre would like to study architecture, and there will be a bunch of college coaches that will want to build their offenses around the standout from Santa Clara (6-1-1). This season, Wood already has 1,470 yards on 102 carries and 20 touchdowns.
"I try to keep my team positive at all times," Cierre explained. "Football is a game is a game of emotion, and I try to bring my ‘A-game'. Every time I get the rock, I'm going to run hard and try to get to the end zone. I can run down the middle, or I can run outside. I really don't have a favorite play. Whatever is working at the time, I like. If the running game is working, I say lets pound it until they stop it. But if the passing game is working, I say, let's put it up. All that matters is the win.
"I think my strength is my vision of the field. I think I see things that other people don't see. Other than my ability, I always put my team first," wood said. "I think that's different than other players. I don't think a lot of players look at the big picture. When a lot of guys talk about what they do they just talk about themselves, but they obviously can't do all that by themselves. That's why I stress my team more than what I do.
Despite Cierre's success on the football field, he hasn't been playing the game nearly as long as many of the players he competes against.
"The first year I played was my eighth grade year," he said. "I played in a Pop Warner league that year. Now I'm in my fourth year. I was a basketball player and I really wanted to play basketball, but my mom and dad suggested that I play football. My dad saw how fast I was in eighth grade and he really encouraged me. I figured that I'd try it out and it really just came naturally to me. Toward the middle of my sophomore year is when I really started getting comfortable with football."