Notre Dame NG Nix always at the center of things
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)
Whether it's clogging things up along the defensive line for the Fighting Irish or off the field videotaping his latest YouTube segment ''Chocolate News'' that gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at the team, Nix seems to be in the thick of things.
''I don't like to be in the center of things. I just so happen to be in the center of things,'' Nix said.
The 6-3, 326-pound lineman is a media favorite because of his amusing stories. He doesn't do interviews as much as hold court, talking to a swarm of reporters about such things as how he gets cranky if he can't have Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast, or how one of the youngest of his 11 brothers gave a school presentation on Nix being the Notre Dame quarterback or how Nix thinks coach Brian Kelly should give him a shot at quarterback on goal-line situations.
''One of these days he might come around and he'll give me the ball on fourth-and-1 or whatever he wants. When I do it, then he'll just keep giving it to me,'' Nix said. ''I might get to throw it around a little bit, hopefully.''
Nix already showed he's good on goal-line situations going the other way, helping to stop Stanford in overtime on the final two plays from the 1-yard line after sitting out a play for having the wind knocked out of him. He also forced a fumble by Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson at the Notre Dame 8-yard line in a game the Irish won 13-6.
The fourth-ranked Irish (8-0) will be seeking to win their first nine games for the first time since 1993 when they host Pittsburgh (4-4) on Saturday. That 1993 team finished the year 11-1 and ranked No. 2.
Nix is sixth on the team with 30 tackles for a Notre Dame squad ranked 11th in the nation in defense. Against Oklahoma last week he was part of the Irish front that held Oklahoma to 15 yards rushing, the seventh lowest total in Sooners' history. He also broke up a pass against Oklahoma and made a tackle 11 yards downfield on a pass play.
Asked why the Irish are so good at red zone defense, ranking fourth in the nation, Nix said it's because they get tired of being on the field.
''You're ready to get to the bench and get some water and these guys are trying to score. So you have to stop them to get some water. If you want water you have to stop them,'' he said. ''You just have to want the water.''
Kelly describes Nix as a harder worker this season, which wasn't always the case. Nix arrived on campus at 368 pounds and wasn't ready to play as a freshman. He admits he thought college football was going to be easy. But he said he chose Notre Dame because he knew it would be hard, with some people warning him he'd have trouble with academics at Notre Dame.
''Right now, I'm almost to a 3.0 (grade-point average). I just like taking up challenges,'' said the film, television, and theatre major.
Kelly remembers his first impression of Nix as being ''this big, mammoth of a man who had a kid-like personality. He continues to have that. He's just added a lot of maturity to that kid-like personality,'' he said.
Nix poked fun at his coach while sitting in as a guest on Kelly's radio show earlier this year, saying how he was a great coach but adding ''sometimes he turns purple'' referring to the color Kelly turns when he's yelling.
Nix held a contest on Facebook earlier this year so he could come up with the nickname ''Irish Chocolate.''
''All the great players have a nickname. I intend on being a great player. I've worked hard for it and I continue to work hard for it, so I thought I needed a nickname,'' he said.
Nix has nearly 11,000 Twitter followers and thousands of people have watched his ''Chocolate News.'' In one episode, Nix goes shopping at Sam's Club and is seen urging freshman defensive end Sheldon Day to discard cinnamon buns while Nix buys organic carrots. In another episode he interviews Kelly after the coach underwent back surgery. Another episode shows Nix impressed with the hotel in Ireland having a television in the bathroom.
Nix said he does the segments because before he even thought about playing college football he wondered what the day-to-day life was like for players. He said a couple did a U-turn to stop him one day and thank him for the segments, calling him a role model.
''That was unexpected to me, but it made me happy to know different people watch it,'' he said.
Another chance for Nix to be the center of attention.