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Good news for Irish: Nix, Martin will return

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 10:11 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Louis Nix’s mother participated in one Senior Day. For his high school basketball team, not his football team, and the difference is as vast as Notre Dame’s nose guard himself.

“That wasn’t the same thing,” Nix said Monday. “I didn’t get a lot of praise in basketball, besides five fouls in a minute, maybe.”

And because his mother’s work precluded her from attending that football Senior Day, and because that brought her to tears, Nix decided to give her another one. He will return to the Irish in 2013 along with standout left tackle Zack Martin, both players quickly opting to spurn the NFL in decisions announced by Irish coach Brian Kelly.

Nix is the prototype anchor of Notre Dame’s defense after recording 51/2 tackles for a loss and five pass break-ups as a junior.

“She knows I have this big opportunity, she knows this will help us all out, but at the same time I believe she knows what’s best for me,” Nix said of his mother. “At the end of the day, what if football doesn’t work out? She wants me to fall back on something.”

Martin has been the Irish’s best offensive lineman three years running and initial feedback projected him as a possible second-round pick.

“I wanted to play with my little brother (Nick), I wanted to finish it out with (guard Chris) Watt, and ultimately I want to play another year with (line) coach (Harry) Hiestand,” Martin said. “He’s taken my game to a new level this year and I know another year will get me even better.”

Tailback Cierre Wood will wait for NFL feedback before making his decision, Kelly said. Wood’s mother told the Tribune last month her son was “70-30” leaning toward the NFL.

Quick answers: The fractured Big East has Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick seeking answers about what’s left for 2013-14 within the next month or so — “maybe even sooner,” he said.

“You’ve got to try to push people,” Swarbrick said. “That’s a little bit of the challenge for us: How do you accelerate the discussion? How do you get some clarity? I don’t know where the point is, but there is a point where I can’t have our teams at risk of not knowing what they’re doing.”

Extra points: Receiver DaVaris Daniels (broken clavicle) is “going to be able to be a key contributor for us” in the title game, Kelly said. ... Backup offensive linemen Ronnie Stanley (elbow) and Matt Hegarty (undisclosed) both had surgery and will not play against Alabama.

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