Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive tackle Louis Nix underwent surgery on his left knee on Thursday and will miss the remainder of the season.
Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune had the news, which puts Notre Dame's defense in a precarious position for the last two regular-season games of the year versus BYU and Stanford:
As noted in a subsequent report from Hamilton, Nix recently acknowledged battling knee tendinitis since last year's loss to Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.
Head coach Brian Kelly then added that Nix had a torn meniscus in addition to the tendinitis after Nix missed two games earlier this year against Air Force and Navy.
Despite having an extra week between the Nov. 9 loss to Pittsburgh and Saturday's clash with BYU, surgery was deemed the best route for the 22-year-old star.
Nix has served as the nose tackle in the Irish's 3-4 defensive alignment and has proven to be an especially disruptive force against the run. That has him as a surefire NFL draft prospect.
ESPN.com draft expert Todd McShay (subscription required) has Nix rated as the No. 6 overall pro prospect in his latest rankings, which were released on Wednesday.
Although Nix is listed as a senior, he still has one year of eligibility left after redshirting his freshman year. He is on track to graduate in December, according to IrishIllustrated.com's Douglas Farmer, but is still unsure whether or not he'll leave South Bend:
Who wouldn't want to be here another year, just sit around and party (he laughs). It's something to think about right now. I'm not sure, to be honest. It's something to consider. We've got a lot of good guys coming back and potentially have our Everett (Golson) coming back.
Andrew Owens of 247Sports.com documented a little more of what Nix had to say about his potential NFL future on Thursday, as he explained that the injury wouldn't impact his decision:
Nix says the injury will not affect the NFL decision. Says he doesn’t know when the time to decide is.— Andrew Owens (@BGI_AndrewOwens) November 21, 2013
In light of the injury situation, the Irish's rather disappointing campaign and the promise pro football provides for Nix's future, though, it's possible that the 6'3", 340-pound dynamo has played his final game for Notre Dame.
Though all the perks of playing for one of the nation's most storied college football programs are weighing on Nix, but he is virtually certain to be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft should he choose to enter.
It will be interesting to see which path Nix takes as he approaches a monumental decision that will have big ramifications for Notre Dame football in 2014.