ND West vs. ND East

SAN ANTONIO - On Wednesday, Cierre Wood and Chris Watt called out their future Notre Dame teammates and the rest of the East Team at the U.S. Army All-American game.

Wood and Watt don't think the East is working as hard as the West, and it will show inside the Alamo Dome on Saturday afternoon (1 p.m. EST).

"They're rough on us," Wood said of the West coaching staff. "I mean the East, they're some lazy people, They don't do nothing. We're supposed to get out at three, and they don't follow the schedule for nothing. We're supposed to get out at three and we're going until like 3:45. Their breaks are like an hour and ours are like 15 minutes. I'm telling you. We're sore and stuff and they're like what's wrong with you all. I'm like you haven't gone through half of what we've been through."

Watt, a five-star offensive guard from Glen Ellyn, Ill., agrees with Wood, the five-star running back he'll be blocking for in South Bend.

"We do things a lot harder with the West," Watt stated. "The East is always, they just have their helmets on the second practice and we're always full pads doing scrimmaging and going hard against each other.

"We're just competing, trying to get the West back on the winning track because we lost last year, so just definitely getting that win would be big."

Wood and Watt are joined on the West by Irish verbal commit and four-star receiver Shaquelle Evans. The East team also has three Notre Dame pledges in four-star defensive tackle Tyler Stockton, three-star tight end Jake Golic and four-star linebacker Zeke Motta.

"All their guys are going to be beat up in the game," Stockton said. "We go hard one practice, and we do mental stuff the second practice, a walk thru and stuff."

Golic took offense to Watt and Wood's comments prior to both team's scrimmages today inside the Alamo Dome.

"I heard the West has been dogging it, that's what I've been hearing," Golic laughed.

"We're working pretty hard out here. We're just going to be mentally prepared for the game."

***Pete Dawkins MVP Trophy: Through two, two-a-day practices, Cierre Wood says the rust from not playing football in awhile is almost off, and on Saturday, he plans on leaving San Antonio for home in Oxnard, Calif., with some hardware.

Before Wednesday's scrimmage, Wood found out he will also be returning kicks during Saturday's game.

"I'm returning them for sure, he just told me today," the 6-foot, 200-pound Wood said. "I'm going to try and take it back as much as a possible. My goal is to take the first one back if they decide to (kick) it.

"Just keep scoring. Trying to get that MVP going."

Wood is also trying to stay warm. Despite good weather, Wood was the only player walking around the Alamo Dome with a winter cap on.

"I don't like this weather," he said. "It's starting to mess with my beautiful face out here. To me, it's cold out here."

Wood will share carries this weekend with five-star Texas commit Chris Whaley, and four-star Texas A&M pledge Christine Michael.

***Assisting Wood: If Wood is going to leave Texas with the MVP honors, he's going to need some good blocking, and Chris Watt is going to be one of the key cogs along the West offensive line.

The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Watt says he has already established himself as one of the starting guards, and loves competing in practice against West defensive tackles Jamarkus McFarland, Chris Davenport and others.

"It's fun," Watt stated. "Practices are tough, but it's really fun going against this type of competition and proving yourself out there.

"I feel pretty good on the run blocking game. On pass blocking, I feel that is one thing I need to work on, just sinking my hips a little bit. When they're trying to bull-rush me, just sinking my hips a little bit more, but definitely run blocking in the zone game, I feel like I'm doing pretty good."

Watt realizes that he just needs to get a little bit bigger and stronger, and he will see improvements in his pass blocking game as he prepares for Notre Dame.

"I'm jut going to work my ass off this off-season, just trying to get bigger and bulkier while maintaining my speed as well."

One thing Watt won't be doing, is playing any center or long-snapper.

"I was trying to snap, but it's not anything that's going to be happening I think," Watt laughed. "I did some on special teams. I did some offense at the beginning of the week at center, but my snap is really not that great, so I'm staying at guard."

***Looking To Start: Tyler Stockton is not short on confidence, but his play this week has even slightly surprised himself.

Stockton has been running with the first-team defense through most of the practices, right next to five-star tackle William Campbell. Also in the rotation is five-star Ohio product John Simon, and four-star player Josh Boyd from Mississippi.

"I feel pretty good," the 6-foot-1, 295-pound Stockton said. "I feel I'm competing to the best of my abilities, and I think I'm going to perform well.

"Right now, I think it's going to be me and Will starting, and we'll do a four-player rotation kind of thing. We're all going to play a lot."

Stockton said that starting was definitely a goal he set for himself coming in.

***Where He Wants To Be: The first day of practice, Zeke Motta had to play his high school position, safety, because several East players couldn't make it to San Antonio with travel conflicts.

A little disappointed, the 6-foot-3, 212-pound Vero Beach, Fla., product rolled with the punches, and on Tuesday, he was finally at outside linebacker, the position he will play at Notre Dame.

Motta also played linebacker a couple weeks ago at the Hawaiian/Polynesian-Mainland All-Star game in Honolulu, and is trying to get as much experience at the position before reporting to South Bend as an early enrollee in January.

"It was good," Motta said of Tuesday's practice. "I felt a little more comfortable (at linebacker), and with my reads and stuff. I enjoyed it."

Motta talked about the adjustments he has to make from safety to linebacker, and doing it against fellow All-Americans.

"Maybe working on my downhill reads, staying lower, but that's really about it," he said. "Playing here just makes you that much of a better player."

***Byron Moore Update: Moore, a four-star safety out of California is a soft verbal pledge to USC, but is also considering Notre Dame and USC. Shaquelle Evans and Wood are trying to get Moore to flip this week.

More coming in a Moore update very soon.

IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories