On Saturday night, the news that no one wanted to hear after learning former Notre Dame NT Louis Nix was missing began to break. Louis Nix, a 29-year-old with a personality that was larger than life, had tragically lost his life. A man who brought joy to so many, gone far too soon.
Louis Nix was one of the largest human beings to play football for Notre Dame in the last decade, but his personality was even larger. He came to Notre Dame as a shy kid from Florida and left the University as one of the most universally beloved players to wear a Notre Dame uniform in years. Everyone loved “Irish Chocolate.”
Nix committed to Notre Dame in December of 2009 when the Fighting Irish program did not have a head coach. Originally recruited by the Charlie Weis staff, Nix committed to then running backs coach Tony Alford – the lone holdover on the Notre Dame staff – less than 24 hours after Weis was fired. At the time I wrote he’d become a fan-favorite for committing when he did. Little did I know he’d do a lot more to win over the hearts of Notre Dame fans.
After redshirting as a true freshman in 2010 and adjusting to the college game, Nix burst on to the scene in 2011 and was the anchor of the Notre Dame defensive line for the next three seasons, including that magical 2012 regular season run to the BCS Championship Game. Nix had 50 tackles including 7.5 TFL and 2.0 sacks to go along with 3 pass breakups as the lynchpin of the defense that carried Notre Dame to a 12-0 regular season mark.
While that BCS National Championship game didn’t end how any Notre Dame fan wanted, Nix did give the fans some more joy leading up to the game with his rendition of Gangnam Style at halftime of a Miami Heat game a few days before the BCS Championship.
It wasn’t guaranteed that Nix would return in 2013 since he was garnering some interest from the NFL, but he did decide on coming back making possible one of the best on field moments in Notre Dame spring football history.
By 2013, Nix switched jersey numbers from his original “9” to what he called a more slimming number “1”. He did so to make the number nine jersey available for an incoming freshman with a lot of hype named Jaylon Smith. In the 2013 annual Blue and Gold game, #1 was rewarded with one play as the Notre Dame quarterback. It’s a play die-hard Notre Dame fans will never forget.
It’s unfortunate that a knee injury cost Nix the end of his senior season because we might have seen Nix line up at quarterback again on Senior Day. It’s even more unfortunate that the knee injuries followed Nix to the NFL and he was never able to make it on the field for the Houston Texans who drafted him in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft. When he was healthy, he was a monster in the middle of the defensive line and could have done some great things in the NFL Had his knees held out.
Louis Nix was one of the most fun players to write about in over 20 years of writing about Notre Dame football because for as big as he was physically, he had an even bigger heart. He was an animal on the field and a teddy bear off it. He was someone who just wanted to make other people happy and he did that at Notre Dame. He was universally loved by the Notre Dame community. And that is no easy task.
Louis Nix was taken from this world far too early. He was a young man who overcame a lot just to get to Notre Dame and earn his degree. I’d say it’s tragic that he wasn’t able to even see his 30th birthday, but that doesn’t feel strong enough. The way the last few months have unfolded for Nix and his family is just heart-breaking. Louis Nix was a young man that had a lot of life left to live.
Rest in peace, big fella.