Irish Hype : A Major Notre Dame Recruiting Win Tempers A Minor Loss

Marc HalstedCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2009

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 07:  A member of Notre Dame Fighting Irish holds up his helmet on the opening kickoff during the game against the Stanford Cardinal on October 7, 2006 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Louis Nix, the highly regarded four-star prospect from Jacksonville, Florida, gave his verbal commitment to Notre Dame on Tuesday.

It could not have come at a better time for the Irish.

Irish Sports Daily reported that the Raines High defensive lineman switched his commitment away from the University of Miami and told running backs coach Tony Alford, and other media outlets, that he was “100 percent” Irish and excited to be done with the recruiting process.

Nix, the ESPN 150 99th ranked player and 8th rated defensive lineman actually helped the Irish gain ground in the recruiting wars after losing the 111th ranked Chris Martin, the 12th ranked defensive end in the nation, just a day ago.

The 18-man Irish class of 2010 remains in the top 15 of nearly every major recruiting site, dropping just one spot on Rivals and moving up in the ESPN team rankings.

Martin, who was roundly considered a soft verbal throughout the fall, eliminated the Irish from contention and has now moved on to USC, California, and Florida. Interestingly enough, he’s also considering Oklahoma and their head coach Bob Stoops who is, for now, still a minor part of the Notre Dame conversation.

At 6’3 and 315 pounds, Nix brings a physical presence to the defensive line products already verbally on board with the Irish. 6’5, 250-pound Indianian Blake Leuders presents a four-star make-up at defensive end while Justin Utopo, a 6’2, 240-pound three-star project from California, adds depth to the interior.

More importantly, Nix was an emotional victory for Irish recruitniks who are looking for some positivity in the midst of the firing of Charlie Weis this week. 

The average fan will simply see another name on the board. But the aforementioned recruitniks knows that a de-commit from Miami means (a) a major victory over a southern power school, (b) another major product from talent-rich Florida, and (c) a much-needed defensive line prospect at a time when the maligned ND defense desperately needs size, athleticism, and the ability to get pressure in the opposing backfield.

In addition, with the legendary Bobby Bowden stepping down at Florida State, the question of which collegiate football empire will be first to rise again has been debated.

A top fifteen Florida recruit like Nix, pulled from a city just 160 miles away from Tallahassee, helps prove that the Notre Dame brand will stand strong in the midst of great turmoil, especially in the great talent pools of the college football recruiting world.

The Louis Nix victory serves as proof that Notre Dame can stand by itself as a dynamic academic institution, college football power, and national recruiter despite a 6-6 season and a much-ballyhooed coaching change.

Recently, the talking heads of ESPN, PTI , and college football broadcasts around the nation have questioned the legitimacy of the Irish program. They’ve gone so far as to argue that it’s time to join the Big East conference, align with the Big Ten, or change their academic standards.

Notre Dame apparently will never join a conference in football and there are no plans to ever adjust the academic admissions expectations for one of the most important institutions in the country. Charlie Weis graduated 96 percent of his players and the young men that have gone through the Irish program have finished college with one of the most valuable back-up plans in NCAA athletics: a Notre Dame diploma.

After two days of rampant speculation and numerous questions surrounding the Notre Dame program, the Louis Nix commitment is a sign that Irish Nation can be assured of the highest expectations of future success.

Whether it’s Brian Kelly, Bob Stoops, Turner Gill, or another fine coaching candidate, the Irish program is healthy, the talent is on campus, and the University of Notre Dame is still fighting.