NOTRE DAME— If Louis Nix never reads another conversation about him being a preseason All-American, it’ll be fine by him.
Don’t even think about telling him he’s currently No. 3 on Mel Kiper Jr.’s NFL draft board.
For a player who once craved the attention given former teammate Manti Te’o, Nix doesn’t like hearing outside talk of his expectations as an All-American, especially when supporters get frustrated that he isn’t the Te’o of the defensive line.
“I really don’t like it,” Nix said of the talk about his preseason accolades. “Because for some reason, people said I’m an All-American or whatever. They expect me to make 10 tackles and I don’t think they watch me. Last year, I barely made a tackle a game.”
Nix’s deadpan sense of humor and frank delivery during interviews made him a media darling and a fan favorite last season. His Twitter account nears 27,000 followers and his Chocolate News YouTube channel — which hasn’t been updated since Aug. 31, 2012 — garnered thousands of views per episode.
But Nix has been less of a media staple during the first weeks of the season, keeping away from the cameras in favor of teammates TJ Jones, Dan Fox and Amir Carlisle. He spoke to reporters after practice on Wednesday, Sept. 11, for the first time since Media Day on Aug. 21.
He was more subdued than usual. While glimpses of the humor were still there — “I miss you guys,” he said to a crowd of reporters — he was mostly all business.
It’s not that Nix is tired of his celebrity. He just has more important things to take care of right now, such as graduating in December.
“I had to get my mind right,” Nix said. “A lot of stuff at home, a lot of stuff at school. I’m trying to get out of here by December. I have all my credits. Just getting my stuff in order.”
Head coach Brian Kelly has seen the mental changes in Nix this year, saying the senior nose tackle is a more mature, open-minded player than he used to be.
“His professionalism has been outstanding, and you can see it on Saturday where we were getting into some extended drives,” Kelly said. “He wouldn’t come to the sideline and be, you know, pointing a finger. It would be, ‘All right, what do we got to do here.’ I think that’s a sign of maturity and a guy that’s battling his butt off, getting doubleteamed in there and still giving us really good information.”
Through the first two games, Nix has been shouldering double-team coverage, freeing up teammates Stephon Tuitt, Sheldon Day and Ishaq Williams’ paths to the quarterback.
While in years past, that responsibility would have frustrated Nix, he understands his role on the defense better than ever before.
“Based on the defense we run, it’s my job to take double teams,” he said. “I just do my job. I take my double teams how I get them. Now I communicate with my coaches and teammates more than get mad at the whole situation.”
Flashes of that frustration cropped up in the season-opener against Temple, when Nix was flagged for two offsides penalties and a personal foul. Nix reined in his emotions for the Michigan game, playing a much better game against the Wolverines.
“I got level-headed, got myself together,” Nix said. “I can’t be too anxious to hit somebody. I need to calm down.”
Meanwhile, he’d like everyone else to learn his job on the defense.
‘I don’t think people know actually what I do because people expect me to make Manti tackles and interceptions,” he said. “That’s not my job.”