Yesterday, Notre Dame Nose Guard Louis Nix and Left Tackle Zach Martin announced that they would be returning for the 2013 football season. This is huge news for the Fighting Irish going forward. Without Manti Te’o on the Defense next year, Nix is arguably the best player on the Defense. Likewise, Zach Martin is by far Notre Dame’s best Offensive Linemen.
Louis Nix’s contributions are sometimes are hard to calculate. They do not always show up in the stat sheet as sacks and tackles for loss. But, in a 3-4 Defense, Nix is critical in controlling the line of scrimmage. At 6’3″ 326 lbs., Nix controls the line by drawing double teams. This allows everyone else to make plays.
Zach Martin has been critical in protecting the Quarterback and in the running game. His return will help anchor a line that should return three of five starters next year. Martin is looking forward to the opportunity to play along side his brother Nick, who saw significant playing time this season. The Left Tackle is the most important position along the Offensive Line. It protects a right-handed Quarterback’s blindside. Having an experienced and quality Left Tackle like Zach Martin cannot be overstated.
The return of Martin and Nix also means that two scholarship are now taken in 2013. As it stands right now, Notre Dame has 83 scholarship players with incoming Freshman class. The number could fall to 82 if Cierre Wood leaves for the NFL. Wood is still currently mulling his decision. As of this moment, it seems likely that Notre Dame could land commitments from Florida Running Back Tarean Folston, California Safety Max Redfield and New Jersey Outside Linebacker A.Q. Muhammad. Depending on how Cierre Wood decides, Notre Dame could find themselves at 86 scholarships, which is one over the current NCAA limit. Brian Kelly would remedy this situation by denying one of the fifth-year candidates such as Dan Fox, Carlo Calabrese or Chris Watt. The most probable name of those three is Carlo Calabrese.
The impact of Nix and Martin’s return may be as critical to the 2013 season as Manti Te’o's was to the 2012 season. These players make enormous contributions up in the trench where the game is won. When they do their jobs, someone else is successful. That success will translate into more wins for the Fighting Irish in 2013.