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Top 25 player countdown: No. 3

(Note: These rankings were made before head coach Brian Kelly suspended Cierre Wood and Justin Utupo for the first two games of the season.)

No. 3. Cierre Wood, RB

2011 numbers: Wood played in all 13 games and started nine, rushing for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns on 217 carries, an average of 5.1 yards per carry. He added 27 catches for 189 yards.

Making the case for Wood: Wood became just the 11th player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. And he did it despite splitting time with Jonas Gray for much of the second half of the year. Named to the preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award, Wood figured to head a rushing attack that includes the talented Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III. But he may have some catching up to do after being suspended Sunday for the first two games of the season following a violation of team rules.