Louis Nix | 6'3, 326 pounds | Defensive tackle | Notre Dame | Junior
Following the BCS Championship Game in which Alabama dominated Notre Dame 42-14, people started to claim that the Irish didn't belong on the same field as the SEC powerhouse.
Apparently, those people weren't watching Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III. The monster of a man was generating plenty of push against Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack and kept his motor running throughout the game. On the whole, Notre Dame's defense got whipped. But Nix stood out.
Entering his redshirt junior season, Nix looks like the best draft-eligible defensive tackle. Assuming another step forward in 2013, Nix should be a hot name this fall.
What he does well
At first glance, Nix looks like a typical nose tackle. Plug his 6-foot-3-inch 325-pound frame into the middle of a 3-4 defense and let him plug the middle for years to come. But those who peg Nix as strictly a nose tackle are doing him a diservice.
Yes, Nix is a mountain of a man. And yes, he would make an outstanding nose tackle. He can hold the point of attack and eat up double teams in the middle. But he also has the quick feet to move along the defensive line and get penetration from a variety of gaps. He could play in a 4-3 defensive scheme and might even be able to handle sliding out to defensive end in a 3-4 on certain plays. His athletic potential is exciting.
What makes Nix so dangerous is his burst and snap anticipation. He's athletic, no doubt, but the first step burst and focus contributes to his get off. He drives with a ton of power, showing active hands.
Despite his weight, Nix doesn't have too many issues with effort. His mean streak stands out and that keeps him playing hard through every whistle late into games. This is evident in his willingness to chase down ball carriers and finish plays in the backfield. It helps that Nix tracks the ball well. As fi Nix wasn't scary enough, he plays the game angry.
What he needs to improve on
Nix has a tendency to get a bit upright off the snap and not play with enough leverage. Given his size, it's not shocking that this happens once in a while, but it's definitely something Nix needs to correct going forward. He's dominant off the snap when he gets low and drives using his leverage. He just needs to do it all the time.
As previously mentioned, Nix plays the game a bit angry. That helps him in some ways and hurst him in others. He needs to show a bit more discipline on the field and not allow himself to get distracted.
Nix is a big time talent with the upside to become even more dominant this season for the Irish. He's one of the key cogs on a loaded Notre Dame defensive line that should only get better this season. If people think that Brian Kelly and company are going to disappear after a breakout season, guys like Nix may have them second guessing.
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