Apr 6, 2013, 1:27 PM EDT
Last week, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was unequivocal in his evaluation of rising senior Louis Nix.
“We think he’s the best nose guard in America,” Kelly said.
As good as Nix has been as the centerpiece of the Irish’s defensive line, he might be better in front of a microphone. Nix was made available after the Irish’s practice on Friday and as usual the singularly unique Nix was at his best. The rising senior, who likely enters his final season at Notre Dame, wears his emotions on his sleeve, and never gives an answer that feels canned or rehearsed. How else can you explain his evaluation of where the Irish are this spring, and what their goals might be.
“Coming off that ass whooping from Alabama, we just want to get back on track and get focused,” Nix said. “Make our way back to the national championship game, and hopefully do a better job.”
That kind of attitude, from one of the team’s best players no less, should alleviate any concern Irish fans have about Notre Dame’s players entering next season too confident. Nix’s attitude about his own personal goals was equally as refreshing, avoiding any NFL talk and keeping his focus on the task at hand.
“Just keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Nix said. “Just going with what Coach Kelly, Coach Elston, and Coach Diaco tell me to do. Work in the weight room. Work in the class room. Just keep doing what I do.”
What Nix does is pretty impressive. While he laughed off questions about his added weight (likely not so much a weight gain but an accounting adjustment to better reflect the truth), he’s also taken on an unlikely leadership role, mentoring younger players that’ll be key contributors along the line, but doing so in a way that’s vintage Nix. (Rising sophomore Jarron Jones said Nix’s words of encouragement usually include, “You suck.”)
But Nix’s playful banter with teammates is now juxstaposed with a work ethic that matches his talent. Nix skipped out on spring break this year, choosing to go to Arizona instead, where he ran hills and trained. He plans to do the same in his brief summer break, avoiding a trip back home to Florida.
“I usually go home and do nothing and gain weight and eat. There’s no purpose to do that,” Nix said.
That type of maturity is a long way from the guy we met three years ago. A long way from the guy who spent his freshman season sitting out, working to transform his body while watching his teammates play in Yankee Stadium from his dorm room, or celebrating a long-sought victory over USC on an empty campus over Thanksgiving break. (“So that sucked,” Nix said.)
Nix sees the big picture now, understanding that everything he’s doing now will pay off. Possible as soon as this time next year.
“I’ve got all the time in the world to go on spring break,” Nix said. “I don’t want to ball on a budget. That’s the worst. I want to hopefully make some money in the draft, if hopefully I make it or don’t get hurt, get a couple dollars in my pocket and go do what I want.”
Aug 30, 2015, 3:34 PM EDT
There are a ton of good questions to get to so this will roll out in multiple parts. Many thanks for the thoughtful work. (And some nice examples of brevity.)
Aug 29, 2015, 3:19 PM EDT
After a long line of starters with plenty of experience, Notre Dame’s tight ends all but start over in 2015. Scott Booker’s position group comes in with all sorts of intriguing traits. Unfortunately, none of those are experience.
Aug 28, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT
Brian Kelly was on the Dan Patrick Show this morning and the Irish head coach got his last weekend without a game started by chatting it up with the popular radio host. While Kelly didn’t make any headlines in the interview, he did conduct it from his desk with a Showtime crew hanging a boom mic over his head, part of life with a documentary film crew following him around.
Aug 28, 2015, 1:04 PM EDT
Just about everybody expects Harry Hiestand’s offensive line to be a dominant unit. But after months of preseason hype, they now need to prove they can do it.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:48 PM EDT
Ishaq Williams’ college football career is over. Notre Dame’s exiled defensive end, who sat out last season as part of a two-semester suspension for his role in the “frozen five” academic dishonesty investigation, has lost his NCAA appeal for reinstatement. Brian Kelly shared the news on Thursday after practice
Aug 27, 2015, 8:25 PM EDT
The votes are in and Notre Dame’s football team will be captained by five players. Graduate students Matthias Farley, Nick Martin and Joe Schmidt will be joined by senior Sheldon Day and junior Jaylon Smith as the captains of the 2015 Irish.
Aug 27, 2015, 12:34 PM EDT
It appears that the Greg Bryant era at Notre Dame is over. The junior running back, who was declared academically ineligible to play for the Irish this fall, has enrolled at ASA Miami, a junior college with a new football program run by former Irish assistant Ernest Jones.
Aug 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
After two seasons of trying to find carries for a handful of emerging running backs, Notre Dame has the opposite problem: Trying to spread out a growing workload among a smaller, highly-differentiated position group.
Aug 26, 2015, 1:56 PM EDT
With the season right around the corner and preseason camp finished, it’s time to get our final preparations done before the games start counting and the journey begins. We spent the summer pumping out tens of thousands of words on Notre Dame’s evolving roster, so if you’re looking for 50 hours of easy reading, check out the Irish A-to-Z series.
Aug 26, 2015, 12:42 PM EDT
Have a final question before we have actual football to talk about? Today’s the day. Drop them below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.
Aug 25, 2015, 5:06 PM EDT
Notre Dame announced a number of enhancements to Notre Dame Stadium on Tuesday. Most notable among them, a video board that’ll go atop the south end zone.
Aug 25, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
Our final installment of the A-to-Z series is perhaps our most important one. Because Notre Dame’s fate is in the hands of quarterback Malik Zaire.
Aug 24, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT
With the injury to freshman cornerback Shaun Crawford, an unlikely candidate has emerged as the frontrunner for the No. 3 cornerback job: Devin Butler. The junior, who struggled mightily at times last season after he was forced into action, looked to have lost his grip on that spot this spring after strong work by sophomore Nick Watkins.
Aug 24, 2015, 12:27 PM EDT
No freshman will be tossed into the deep end quicker than kicker Justin Yoon. Essentially Notre Dame’s sole option to kick field goals in 2015, Brian Kelly and the Irish coaching staff are putting a ton of the shoulders of a true freshman, who’ll be asked to fix a three-point operation that went haywire down the stretch after the Irish’s all-time field goal leader Kyle Brindza lost his mojo.
Aug 23, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT
When Brandon Wimbush enrolled in school this summer, he became the latest blue-chip quarterback to join the Notre Dame football program with the burden of great expectations. The New Jersey state player of the year, Wimbush would be wise to forget about the prep accolades, instead focusing his efforts on learning the playbook, with the third-string quarterback closer to the field than you’d ideally want.
Aug 21, 2015, 12:12 PM EDT
Keith Gilmore’s move to Notre Dame reunites him with Brian VanGorder, two football lifers who have known each other since they shared a huddle as players. After a long coaching career, Gilmore also reunites with Brian Kelly, a coach he’s worked for at Grand Valley, Central Michigan, Cincinnati and now Notre Dame.
Aug 21, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
Notre Dame landed another Indianapolis product when safety Mykelti Williams joined the Irish this summer, the freshman lending some much needed depth to the secondary. Hailing from Warren Central, the same program that brought Notre Dame Sheldon Day, Williams’ might not contribute as quickly as Day did, but he’ll have a chance to compete for a spot in the two deep behind Max Redfield at free safety.
Aug 20, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT
With Notre Dame’s running back depth chart down Greg Bryant, freshman Dexter Williams has a clear line to the football field this fall. While wide receiver Justin Brent has converted to the backfield and Tarean Folston returns as a starter, Williams and fellow freshman Josh Adams couldn’t ask for a more advantageous situation, especially with C.J. Prosise taking time to heal an ailing hip flexor.
Aug 20, 2015, 12:17 PM EDT
Don’t talk to KeiVarae Russell anymore about his suspension. He’s not all that interested. He discussed it with Sports Illustrated, he discussed it at the opening of training camp and he continued to answer questions about it on Media Day.
Aug 19, 2015, 10:13 PM EDT
Talented freshman cornerback Shaun Crawford tore his ACL at practice on Wednesday and is lost for the season. Brian Kelly made the announcement Wednesday night via the sports information department.