Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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8 APRIL 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI Editor's Note: The Notre Dame com- munity grieved when it was learned that 2010-13 Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix III had died in an automobile ac- cident on Feb. 27 after having been re- ported missing for several days. No foul play was believed to have oc- curred, per police reports from Nix's mother Stephanie Wingfield, with the investigation still ongoing. Two months earlier, Nix sur- vived a bullet shot to his sternum while he was pumping air into his tires at a gasoline station in his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla. A little more than 24 hours after Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis was fired from his post in 2009, Jacksonville, Fla., native Louis Nix III gave his pledge to attend Notre Dame — even before a new boss was named to lead the operation. When does that ever happen? Before he ever suited up at Notre Dame, Nix already provided a unique touch and personality. The Fighting Irish were reeling with four consecutive losses to end the campaign, and were 16-21 overall from 2007-09, but Nix's surprising decision became a ray of sunshine from the Sunshine State. After all, in the new era with head coach Brian Kelly — who was hired a week after Nix's commitment — Nix received the highest national ranking from Rivals (No. 85) that season among the 2010 Notre Dame recruits in the new head coach's first recruiting rodeo. Right behind Nix at No. 86 was offensive tackle Matt James, who would tragically die during spring break that April in Florida before he ever suited up for the Irish. On Feb. 27 it was discovered that the 29-year-old Nix also had died far too young. It was one of those shocking, heartbreaking newsflash moments that humbles one to the core about mortal- ity and the fragility of life on earth. CHALLENGING HIMSELF Originally a University of Miami commitment, Nix became enamored with Notre Dame during separate vis- its to the campus, trading in familiar- ity and a warm climate to challenge himself athletically, academically and socially beyond his comfort zone. The impact wasn't felt right away. Listed at a generous 350 pounds when he enrolled as a freshman, Nix acknowledged later in his career that the number was about 15 to 20 pounds under reality, and he deemed it a moral victory his initial season when he could get past pre-practice stretching workouts. He was issued No. 67 that year, too, a "boring" number he had changed to No. 9 as a sophomore to showcase his newly streamlined 326-pound figure and replace the graduated four-year starting nose tackle and six-year NFL player Ian Williams. Nothing in defensive coordinator's Bob Diaco's 3-4 alignment was more important than a stout, space-eating nose tackle who could control the mid- dle and consistently draw an offense's attention with double teams to help elevate the play of the rest of the unit. As just a sophomore, Nix proved more than a capable heir to Williams while also pacing the linemen in tackles with 45, 12 more than anyone else in his position group. A defense that just two years earlier to close out the Weis era ranked 86th nationally and 63rd in scoring improved to top 30 in both categories. POPULAR PERSONALITY; FEARLESS FORCE And then in 2012 came the single- most dominant regular season by the Irish defense in 32 years, or since head coach Dan Devine's final season in 1980. Middle linebacker Manti Te'o de- servedly gained the national acco- UNDER THE DOME During Notre Dame's undefeated regular season in 2012, Nix was a standout on the Irish defense that allowed a paltry 10.3 points per contest, leading the defensive line in tackles (50). PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA REMEMBERING LOUIS NIX III The dominant, personable and self-dubbed "Irish Chocolate" passed away at age 29

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