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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Football Coach Brian Kelly Remembers Louis Nix III

March 1, 2021

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly arrived in South Bend and hit the ground recruiting like every new coach. 

Raines High School (Fla.) defensive lineman Louis Nix III might have been the first commit he was told about as the four-star prospect had committed to Notre Dame without a head coach being named. 

“When I walked into the office, Tony Alford was waiting for me and said, 'Listen, we have to get on a plane to Jacksonville, Fla. We have to go see this man named Louis Nix III. We do not have any time and we have to get there immediately because he's probably one of the best players you're ever going to sign here,’” recalled Kelly on Monday afternoon. 

"It took us a little while to find him at Raines High School. I remember it being about 90 degrees that day. We tracked him down and that was the first time we laid eyes on him. He did not disappoint. Big fella. Big personality. Big smile.”

Jacksonville hadn’t been a hotbed for Irish recruiting, but it didn’t take long for Kelly to be sold on Nix and the reasons he wanted to go to school at Notre Dame.

"At that time - (Nix) just relayed to me why he was coming to Notre Dame,” stated Kelly. “He wanted to do something nobody else ever thought he would do and that was to leave Jacksonville. Leave the city and graduate from Notre Dame." 

The signing of Nix also opened the door for Notre Dame to recruit outside of its typical profile. It showed they could not only sign student-athletes outside of the profile, but also proof that it could work. 

"He came here with the purpose of wanting something more,” said Kelly. “Wanting a degree from Notre Dame and wanting to prove to a lot of people that somebody could come out of non-profile school or just the inner-city public school and he made that statement. 

"I think that has continued to grow in a sense that we've been able to see more and more players come through our program that are not part of those profile schools and do exceedingly well here.

"I think Louis began to open that pathway for many of the student-athletes." 

Nix did graduate from Notre Dame and his presence was also felt early on during his career. Kelly credited Nix’s ability to lighten the room as a turning point in helping the Irish make the National Title game in 2013. 

"I knew he was special when it was easy for him to cut up Michael Floyd,” explained Kelly. “I mean joke with Michael Floyd. Mike was a veteran in the program, established and he could make Mike laugh. 

"As a young guy coming in, he cut a lot of the tension in the program. When I got on board, there was a big weight on Notre Dame's shoulders relative to winning. Louis took a lot off of the shoulders of the players. You have to understand in a very short period of time, this program went undefeated and Louis' personality plus some really good football players, had a lot to do with that. The way he interacted with people, in particular older players like Michael, had a lot to do with transforming the program early on."

The outgoing personality gave way to one of the most memorable moments at a Notre Dame spring game as Nix was able to play quarterback on a two-point conversion..and score. 

"I lost a bet with Louis,” Kelly said. “We had a bet relative to some of the things I needed Louis to do a little bit better around his weight. He did it. He lost some weight. Maybe you couldn't have seen it. Maybe some people kidded me at the time and said he lost a little weight in his wrist. 

"He lost some weight and maintained it. I said if you did that, we were going to give you an opportunity to run the football. It worked out pretty good, but it was a lost bet to Louis. That will be a fond memory for a lifetime." 

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