Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix III returned for a fourth season in part so his mother could meet him on the field on Senior Day. She still might, but she won’t see her son play another snap this season.
Nix underwent surgery on a torn meniscus on Thursday and will miss the Irish’s final two games of the year, the pain and discomfort ultimately trumping his desire to grind through.
“When I got back to the Pitt game, in my head, I wasn’t thinking about it,” Nix said in South Bend, Ind. “It was like, just go out here and ball, don’t think about being hurt. When people mention your leg, I tell them don’t even tell me about it, I don’t want to think I have it, because that’s not how I play ball.
“But then the week went on – me walking to class, me being in class, teachers noticing I have to stand up just because my leg wasn’t comfortable at a 90-degree angle. I couldn’t sleep because of it. It’s been like that all year, but it worsened. At that point, this point of this week, doing weight training and stuff, I knew I had to tell them it’s been bothering me.”
Nix previously had an MRI after a two-game absence due to platelet-rich plasma therapy to relieve knee tendinitis, revealing the torn meniscus. He had a second MRI and received a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, which confirmed the opinion of team surgeon Dr. Brian Ratigan that the surgery could not wait.
“We had workouts last week,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said after practice. “Thursday we ran him on the woodways, it was problematic. He was sore. He was trying to get through it the best he could.
“It was pretty apparent there that it was easy to discern at that point that we needed to get another MRI. We got another MRI, and although it didn’t show that it was at a point where we did further damage, we just felt at that point, it was in his best interest that it get taken care of.”
Nix said recently that he had battled knee tendinitis since the BCS championship game in January, a condition that flared up on Oct. 19 in a win over USC. After missing two games against Air Force and Navy, it was presumed Nix would battle through until the offseason.
The decision for surgery, though, prompts about a two-month recovery to 100 percent health — and questions about whether Nix will return to Notre Dame for a fifth season. He has been coy on the subject and remained so Thursday, a player deemed a possible first-round pick who will graduate in December but insists he hasn’t made up his mind.
With Nix’s family in town for Senior Day, Kelly said this is “probably the time to do some serious consideration of it.”
“Realistically, it’s still a big decision now,” Nix said. “I haven’t thought about it. I’m just thinking about getting healthy, getting my rehab, finishing my season of ‘Breaking Bad’ and cheering on my team.
“I don’t know what to consider. This is a great place. It’s a great university. It’s done a lot for my life. I feel like if I did come back it would do numerous things for me and help me out. There’s a lot of choices on both sides. But at this time I’m not even thinking about it.”