Kelly: Nix signs with agent, to enter NFL draft

Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix III has signed with an agent and

will forego his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft,

where he is projected by many to be a first-round draft pick.

Coach Brian Kelly also said at a news conference Sunday that

defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt, a junior, has submitted paperwork

to get an evaluation where he likely would be selected if he

entered the draft. He also has been projected as a possible

first-round pick.

Kelly said he’s talked some with Tuitt about his decision, but

not in depth.

”I’ve had some preliminary conversations about his academic

work. He still has some work to do academically. But we haven’t

really delved into the depth of that,” Kelly said.

Kelly said he believes Tuitt should stay and earn his degree

before entering the draft.

”I think you come to Notre Dame to get a degree, and I think

getting a degree is very important in this whole process,” he

said.

He pointed to wide receiver Michael Floyd, linebacker Manti Te’o

and tight end Tyler Eifert as players who returned to Notre Dame

when they could have left early as examples of players doing well

in the NFL. Kelly said Nix’s situation is different.

Nix, who is academically a senior, said last month he was taking

19 hours of classes this semester so he could earn his degree. When

asked whether he thought Nix made the right choice, Kelly said he

believes the best decision Nix made was to attend Notre Dame and

get his degree.

”The rest of those (decisions), you’re splitting hairs,” he

said. ”We’ll find out, because you’re taking a gamble no matter

what.”

Nix’s season came to an end Nov. 21 when he underwent

season-ending surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

The 6-foot-2, 349-pound senior also had been slowed by tendinitis

in the same knee.

Nix, who didn’t play as a freshman, told media at the time he

was undecided about whether he would return, saying his focus was

on getting healthy.

Nix tweeted a message Friday of an emoticon crying and an

Instagram photo taken from a car pulling away from Notre Dame with

the Golden Dome reflected in the side driver’s side mirror.

Nix signed with an agent before Kelly could tell him that would

mean he couldn’t travel with the 25th-ranked Irish (8-4) to New

York to face Rutgers (6-6) in the Pinstripe Bowl.

”Louis in New York would be cool, especially around Christmas

time. So that’s unfortunate,” he said.

Kelly also said quarterback Everett Golson, who will find out

later this month whether he will be readmitted to school after

being suspended for the semester for what he termed ”poor judgment

on a test,” will not practice with the team leading up to the bowl

game. Kelly had previously said if Golson were readmitted, he could

practice after the semester ends on Dec. 20.

Kelly said what with the bowl being played on Dec. 28, that

isn’t a possibility because there isn’t enough time.

”We’re just not going to have the time or the place to get him

in to practice,” Kelly said.

Kelly said he plans to travel to Myrtle Beach on Monday to meet

with Golson, saying he thinks Golson will come back as a better

player than the one that helped the Irish get to the national

championship game last season, but not necessarily because of his

work with quarterback coach George Whitfield.

”I think we’re going to get a better person and someone more

committed because he’s going to be someone who is more committed to

being a better student and more committed to everything he does. I

think that’s going to be a better quarterback at Notre Dame,” he

said.

Starting left guard Chris Watt will miss the bowl game after

tearing his medial collateral ligament in the final regular-season

game against Stanford.

Kelly also said cornerback Lo Wood and tight end Alex Welch,

both seniors with a year of eligibility left, have been granted

releases to transfer to other schools after the season ends. Wood

was expected to be a starter last season before sustaining a

preseason Achilles tendon injury. He has 10 tackles as a backup

cornerback and on special teams this season. Welch has one catch

for 8 yards in as a sophomore, missed last season with a knee

injury and doesn’t have a catch this season.