Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Found! | by Pat

Follow recruiting long enough and you tend to see everything. Still, once and awhile you get taken by surprise. Last night was such a time when Florida defensive tackle decided the lack of a head coach wasn't an obstacle and publicly committed to Notre Dame.

The change occurred after Nix received a visit from Irish assistant coach Tony Alford. "He told me about the situation with the coaches, and he said if he wasn't going to be there, he thought I should still go there, and that Notre Dame was the best school for me," Nix explained. "For someone to tell me that, who possibly wouldn't be coaching me, that's something worth listening to."

The ESPNU 150 talent added, "No more visits, no more nothing. I'm 100-percent."
One of the criticisms of Charlie's run as coach, and perhaps a contributing factor to the lackluster defense that helped get him fired this year, was his inability to land highly touted defensive tackles in his first few classes. So it's a bit ironic that the biggest, both literally and figuratively, defensive tackle to commit to Notre Dame since Charlie took over did so days after Charlie was fired.

The 6'2" 320 pound Nix, a Jacksonville native, had committed to Miami back in early March. But he started to open things up a bit as the year went on and first visited Notre Dame in the summer for football camp. He also looked at Florida, visiting for their premier Friday Night Lights event, where he competed against top recruits from across the country and was named to Rivals's Hot 11 list for most impressive recruits. He then returned to ND for an official visit for the Michigan State game and came back a third time for an unofficial visit for the Southern Cal game. So many visits for a recruit from Florida, especially paying his own way for the final trip, is a pretty good sign a switch to ND was likely.

The recruiting sites all give Nix high marks as he is a 4-star recruit on Rivals, Scout, and ESPN. Rivals tabs him as the #7 defensive tackle recruit and a Top 100 overall recruit checking in at #92. Rivals also rolled out their category rankings and among all defensive tackles recruits, they picked Nix as the #3 run stopper and #4 pass rusher. Scout has Nix as the #12 overall DT recruit and #178 on their Top 300. He's back in double digits on ESPN at #99 on their Top 150 list, was ranked as the #8 overall DT, and earned a grade of 81, the top grade in the class currently (along with Tai-ler Jones and Toney Hurd).

Offer-wise, Nix was sought after by the big three in Florida with Miami, Florida State, and Florida all after him. Out of state, Clemson, Michigan, North Carolina, and others had extended early offers for the big tackle as well. Here's a collection of highlights, from a single game, from SunShine Preps.

Looking back at the blockquote at the top of the post, it's great to see the assistant coaches out still pushing for Notre Dame despite many of them likely being on their way out the door. Even though it's the professional thing to do and most of them are doing it to keep their name out there, not all assistants put in the same level of effort. Personally, I hope Alford is kept around by the next coach as he's the best combination of recruiter and coach on the team in my opinion.

Nix also deserves recognition for the timing of his commit. Some might try to read into things that he's been told who the new coach will be. The more likely angle is that he knew for a long time that he was going to switch from Miami to Notre Dame and chose yesterday to give the Irish program a public vote of confidence. Having Nix hop on board when he did should not only help reassure the current commits, but let those undecided who had ND on their short list know it's still a very viable option. It would have been pretty easy for Nix to just wait until the next coach was hired and commit then, so kudos to Nix for picking a time when it's easy to attack ND to make the call.

Taking a look at the 2010 depth chart, it's pretty obvious that Notre Dame's defensive tackle recruiting has been very uneven the past few years. Half of the tackles on the team are in the junior class. That is why landing Nix is such a big deal. Incoming freshman Justin Utupo is likely to bulk up and wind up playing defensive tackle at ND, but since I included him on the defensive end list when he committed, I'll keep him there for now. Ethan Johnson likewise could slide back to defensive end depending on how the new coach views him, but for now I'm going to list him at the position he played in 2009. Obviously if he slide back to DE, ND will be pretty thin on tackle numbers and even thinner on experienced ones.

Fifth Year
Senior Junior Sophomore Freshman

Ian Williams
Ethan Johnson
Tyler Stockton*
Louis Nix

Sean Cwynar*

Brandon Newman*

Hafis Williams*