Louis Nix III
Nose Guard/Defensive Tackle
University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish
William M. Raines High School
An imposing figure in the middle of the Irish defensive front wall, Nix became the "face" of this proud program. Many scouts and opposing offensive coordinators might sound like a chorus, as all agree that he was the spark that ignited the team on the defensive side of the ball, but was sorely missed when he sat out the final five games of the 2013 season after undergoing left knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
When Nix was on the field for the first eight games of the 2013 schedule, the Irish allowed an average of 107.88 yards per game on the ground and allowed just four touchdowns, while only one opponent gained 200 yards in a contest. In the five games without him, the team gave up nine rushing touchdowns and an average of 248.2 yards per game to ball carriers, as they yielded over 200 yards in four of those contests, including 331 vs. Navy.
Most talent evaluators feel that Nix is the one of the most dominating two-gap, zero-technique performers in the game of college football. Often compared to former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp for his incredible explosive burst off the snap and combative nature, others liken him to the New England Patriots' Vince Wilfork and former Pittsburgh Steelers great, Casey Hampton, for the way he easily occupies multiple blockers, feeling his quickness would be ideal to play three-technique in a 4-3 defensive alignment.
Those evaluators cite his aggressive, "take no prisoners" approach to the game of football that reminds them of former Minnesota Vikings fireplug, Pat Williams. Even opposing coaches recognize that Nix is the "heart and soul" of the Irish defense. They are all amazed at the quickness displayed by the red-shirt junior, as his lateral movements are very fluid, which is demonstrated regularly by his crisp and sudden change-of-direction agility working down the line.
While Mante Te'o might have garnered the media attention in 2012, it is easy to see that the nose guard's success at stuffing the run was the major reason Notre Dame ranked 11th in the nation in rush defense (105.69 ypg), seventh in total defense (305.46 ypg) and second in scoring defense (12.77 ppg) in 2012.
The previous season, the Irish placed 47th in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision ranks vs. the run (138.92 ypg), allowed a total of 344.69 yards per game (30th nationally) and ranked 24th in scoring defense (20.69 ppg). Nix made
The success of Nix's game is because of his marked improvement using his hands to shed blocks. With that sudden first step, it is extremely rare for any centers or offensive guards have had any been successful in sustaining this disruptive force. When it comes to taking on lead blockers, Nix has had success in shedding those blocks to take down 16 ball carriers in the backfield, while stopping 13 other runners at the line of scrimmage for no gain.
As a sophomore, he was personally responsible for killing twenty potential scoring drives by the opposition. Even during his first season with the Irish in 2011, he came up with key plays that ended 14 of the possessions mounted by Notre Dame opponents. On 92 plays made vs. the run since joining the Irish, no ball carrier has gained more than seven yards on any attempt.
In 34 games for Notre Dame, Nix has seen those runners average just 0.96 yards per attempt vs. the nose guard, including a miniscule average of 0.25 yards per carry in 2012. Against the rest of the Irish defense, opponents have averaged 4.10 yards per attempt (1,056 times for 4,334 yards). No opponent has scored on the ground vs. Nix. The rest of the team has yielded 25 rushing touchdowns during that 34-game span.
Coming up with big plays seems to be commonplace for Nix. He had 28 third-down stops and three more on fourth-down snaps for the Irish. He delivered 24 of his 123 career tackles inside the red zone, with nine coming on goal-line stands. He also led the team with 15 touchdown-saving tackles during the last two seasons. Among his 19 quarterback pressures, 13 were recorded on third-down plays and two resulted in fumbles while two more led to interceptions by those opposing quarterbacks.
Prior to his arrival at Notre Dame University, Nix was an outstanding interior lineman for head coach Cedric Thornton's Raines High School football team. After recording a combined 19 sacks as a sophomore and junior, he registered 10 more during his final season. He also posted 60 tackles in 2008, followed by a 50-tackle performance in 2009.
Scout.com ranked him ninth nationally among defensive tackles and both services accorded Nix four-star prospect status. Super Prep rated him the eighth-best defensive tackle in the high school ranks while naming him to their All-American team in 2009.
The defensive lineman was also a member of the Florida Super 75 and Jacksonville Super 24 teams selected by the Jacksonville Times-Union following his senior year, in addition to receiving All-First Coast honors and being named the "most disruptive player" in the state by that news service in 2009. The Times-Union had previously chosen him second-team All-First Coast in 2008, and selected him first-team All-First Coast as a sophomore in 2007.
Nix helped lead Raines High to an appearance in the Florida state playoffs as a sophomore, as the Vikings compiled a 7-4 record. He concluded his prep career by playing in the 2010 Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Florida. He also lettered in basketball, as that team recorded a 13-10 record in the Class 3A District III ranks in 2009.
Recruited by Tony Alford, he signed his national letter of intent to attend Notre Dame in December, 2009, after most recruiting services first projected that he would sign with the University of Miami.
Renowned high school football analyst Tom Lemming called Nix a player that loves to mix it up and has as much or more athletic ability as Todd Chandler (Northwestern High defensive tackle who later went to South Florida). Lemming noted on game films that Nix can easily dominate the inside game. He called the down lineman fairly productive as a pass rusher and noted that his greatest attribute is his ability to diagnose plays quickly and makes tackles.
Lemming also stated that Nix is able to drive blockers backward, keep his feet moving, and can run well laterally. He cited the Raines High product's success in beating most high school blockers one-on-one, as he showed a pretty good spin move, and always seemed to be able to get his hands on the blocker first, because Nix is blessed with very good instincts.
Nix did not see action with the Notre Dame varsity in 2010, but went on to start 11 games as a red-shirt freshman the following season. He delivered 46 tackles (13 solos), assisting on a sack while posting 4.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and six quarter-back pressures. On 44 running plays vs. the nose guard, opponents managed just 71 yards, registering 13 third-down hits and another on a fourth-down snap.
As a sophomore, Nix received All-American second-team honors in 2012. He was also named third-team by CBS Sports and captured the Moose Krause Defensive Lineman of the Year Award. He led the Irish down linemen with 50 tackles (20 solos), adding two sacks, 7.5 stops-for-loss and 10 quarterback pressures. He caused one fumble and broke up five passes. He also collected 15 third-down tackles, two more on fourth-down plays and delivered 13 hits inside the red zone, including five on goal-line stands.
After a junior season that saw him post fifty tackles with two sacks and 7.5 stops-for-loss, Nix was constantly double- and triple-teamed, as he managed only 27 tackles with two stops behind the line of scrimmage during the first eight games of the 2013 campaign.
Nix started 30-of-34 games at nose guard for Notre Dame, recording 123 tackles (44 solos) that included 2.5 sacks for minus 10 yards, 14 stops for losses totaling 32 yards and 18 quarterback pressures…Caused one fumble and deflected six passes…Against the run, he made 92 plays, limiting those ball carriers to just 88 yards (0.96 ypc) and six first downs. He posted 17 third-down tackles and two fourth-down hits vs. the ground game, in addition to posting 24 tackles inside the red zone, including nine on goal-line plays while producing 12 touchdown-saving tackles vs. the ground game…On 29 passes targeted into his area, only one pass was caught by the opposition, good for an 11-yard gain, as he posted 13 of his pressures on third-down plays and one more on a fourth-down snap, in addition to registering three touchdown-saving tackles vs. the aerial attack.