Nix experiencing ups and downs
INSIDE IRISH FOOTBALL
10:00 am, April 23, 2012
The tug at his heart comes from the kids on Jacksonville’s north side, who write on Louis Nasty-Dawg Nix III’s Facebook page and fuel their own hopes with each of his breakthroughs, each of his successes.
“I’m the one who made it out, they say,” said Nix, Notre Dame’s junior-to-be nose guard, a 326-pound bundle of extreme promise and perplexity.
“I could have been anybody. I could have been the guy on the corner. I could have been dead, shot, anything. Not in school, working somewhere like at McDonald’s, no high school diploma. So I’m happy about it.
“I took advantage of what’s in front of me. I’m just going with it.”
But some days the challenges that Nix has taken on 1,020 miles and a world away culturally from his old neighborhood in Florida aren’t so easy to “go with.” Some days they’re downright overwhelming.
And some days Nix’s emotions spill out into social media, as they did earlier this spring.
“Hopping on the Delta and might never come back. #FLBoy” Nix wrote on his Twitter account (@IrishChocolate9), conjuring up visions of Nix joining fellow Floridian Aaron Lynch in the exit queue.
In his first media interview since last December, Nix on April 18 vowed he is all in at ND — for now.
The homesickness, the waves of academic responsibility piled on top of his football dreams still figure to make the ride turbulent at times for the foreseeable future.
“It’s a roller-coaster ride for anyone,” Nix said. “It’s part of college football. Sometimes you get sick of school, and you just want to relax and just hang. Sometimes you just want to go home. That’s all it is.”
And then he is reminded of the hopes he carries for the young relative strangers back home, for his family, for his girlfriend. He’s reminded that his alma mater, William M. Raines High School, has been a pipeline to the NFL for those who make the right choices — men like Ken Burrough and Harold Carmichael in the early days, Brian Dawkins and Lito Sheppard more recently.
‘You’re either in or you’re out, and I wanted out,” Nix said of his old life in Jacksonville.
He showed up with 368 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame, and immediately struggled with stamina. Much of his redshirt year in 2010 was spent alternately fuming and pouting over the criticism leveled at him by the coaching staff, even when framed constructively.
“If he is going through anything,” Kelly said, “it’s just a matter of life at Notre Dame.”
But life at Notre Dame comes easier for some than others, even with all the promises Nix has made to himself about moving his family to a safer, saner place.
The sacrifices smack him in the face daily. And so far, Nix keeps pushing back.
“It is what it is,” he said. “If I keep my head on straight, I’ll be fine.”