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April 18, 2012

Nix seeks to recapture stride

Notre Dame will take Louis Nix at his word. Now the Irish want better deeds.

The nose guard, whose oversized personality matches his 326-pound frame, spoke to reporters for the first time all spring on Wednesday. It was the first chance the junior had to respond to his depth chart demotion and clarify his cryptic "Hopping on the Delta and might never come back" tweet from the weekendthat ignited rumors of a potential transfer.

Nix claims he's not going anywhere.

"I'm here now, you see me," Nix said.

Nix claims he's not going anywhere.

Does that mean the ultra-talented lineman will be with the Irish this fall?

"I should be," he said.

If that seems like an opaque status update from a player prolific in social media, remember little has been conventional with Nix since the Irish started recruiting him. The one-time Miami pledge committed to Notre Dame without a head coach. He arrived in South Bend two years ago nearly 50 pounds overweight. He's battled homesickness, failure, success, pressure and isolation in South Bend.

Now he's watched friend Aaron Lynch bolt for home.

It's been enough to test Nix during a spring when Notre Dame's coaching staff has been critical of the nose guard's effort. Even his teammates talk about Nix not going full speed enough, although it appears the nose guard is trending up.

"I think that's important for our team, him being here, him being 100 percent," said Chris Watt. "He's gotten a lot better at when he's going 100 percent, which is really good for our team and helping us get better on the O-line."

On that point, Nix agrees.

"Obviously I'm not doing something right so I just need to work on it," Nix said. "(Coach Kelly) wants me to be on my A-game every practice, not my B-game. B is for average players. A is for great players. That's what he wants.

"I know when I have good practices, I know when I have bad ones. If it's not a good enough practice I would like to be told. Sometimes (the coaches) tell me, sometimes I think they might want me to know myself or whatever, I don't know.

"If I want to make it I've got to bring my A-game."

Nix turned in back-to-back strong practices last weekend, enough that Kelly praised the nose guard during the coaches clinic on Friday and then again after the team's open practice a day later. While Nix was subdued with the media after the team's final practice before the Blue-Gold Game, Kelly said his nose guard remains upbeat.

"Louis has never got his head down," Kelly said. "He's always got something to say, he's always upbeat. He's got that personality. He's not a guy when I go in the locker room that I'm worried about Big Lou.

"If he is going through anything, it's just a matter of life at Notre Dame."

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