NOTRE DAME — Even with Ireland a few short days away, Notre Dame’s pre-season drama hasn’t quite run its course.
Notre Dame slapped running back Cierre Wood and defensive end Justin Utupo with a two-game suspension on Sunday for a violation of team rules, according to a release from the university.
“Our players are aware of the standards I set for our program and that failure to meet my expectations will result in consequences,” 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.”
Wood and Utupo will be grounded in South Bend along with fellow suspended teammates Tommy Rees and Carlo Calabrese, who were arrested near an off-campus party in May.
The loss of Wood will be significant for Notre Dame’s match ups with Navy and Purdue. Wood finished with 1,102 rushing yards last year — becoming the program’s first 1,000-yard running back since 2006 — and scored nine touchdowns.
Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III are expected to shoulder Wood’s duties during the suspension.
Wood’s status had drawn speculation throughout the pre-season, as he was the only projected starter to not meet with the media in August. Wood missed the opening practices of camp, which Kelly said was due to “paperwork issues.”
Cornerback Lo Wood, safety Austin Collinsworth and tight end Alex Welch have also dropped off the Notre Dame depth chart due to injury in the off-season.