In New Orleans, a little something extra is called lagniappe. As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the Fighting Irish got quite a good deal of lagniappe (about 630 pounds of it) on Monday when Coach Kelly announced that Zack Martin (OL) and Louis Nix III (NG) would be staying with the program next season. That these two young men would decide to forego NFL millions speaks volumes to the program’s trajectory and to their personal goals. And while it’s too easy to harken back to Tyler Eifert’s or Mati Te’o’s decisions to return last year, there’s no doubt that Martin and Nix have every opportunity to deliver the same kind of lift in 2013.
Having Zack Martin at left tackle is a little like having Cal Ripken, Jr. at shortstop, given his 36 consecutive starts. That consistency is a big reason why the 2012 Fighting Irish kept the quarterback pretty clean, giving up 16 sacks all season. That consistency is a big reason, too, why the Irish were able to run the ball rather effectively, putting up 2,430 rushing yards. Simply put, having a bookend with so much experience is going to put the Irish in a very good place in 2013. As I wrote, some would say prophetically, back in August, a top flight O-line is the sina qua non of a top flight program. With Martin coming back, ND’s chances of getting back to the ‘ship just got a whole bunch better.
In LNIII, the Irish return an athlete who could be the telegenic face of the “new” Fighting Irish. Where Zack Martin, along with Tyler Eiffert and Manti Te’o, represent the best of what Charlie Weis was able to achieve, Louis Nix, a Weis-recruit, has literally taken shape under Brian Kelly as one of the game’s best point men. A behemoth from Florida, Nix had offers from LSU and the Gators when he chose Notre Dame, largely on the efforts of Coach Tony Alford. See what I did there? I gratuitously took a shot at ESSEESEE fan, who thinks ND can only recruit the cornfields. In Nix, the Irish have a beast who draws the double-team, consumes space and loves him some cereal.
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