Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix III will miss the team's final two regular-season games and its bowl game after having season-ending knee surgery Thursday.
Nix told the media Thursday night that it was a hard to miss the rest of the season, but said he decided to have the surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee after talking to doctors with the school and getting a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews.
"They think it's best for my health," he said.
The 6-foot-2, 349-pound senior who didn't play as a freshman has been projected as a possible first-round draft pick. He hasn't decided whether to turn pro or return to Notre Dame for a final season of eligibility.
He had been playing with the injury all season, saying the knee first bothered him in the national championship game against Alabama last January. Earlier this season he also was diagnosed with tendinitis in the same knee.
"We just came to the realization that he's tried really hard to make it work the best he could. He just couldn't go," coach Brian Kelly said.
Kelly said doctors also performed platelet rich plasma therapy on the knee Thursday to try to help with the healing.
Nix said he felt a sharp pain during the game against Pittsburgh on Nov. 9. He said pain became worse during the off week as he walked around campus. He had a hard time sitting in classes and sleeping because of the pain.
"It's been like that all year, but it worsened," he said.
The decision was especially difficult for Nix because the Irish (7-3) play BYU (7-3) on Saturday and his father, who has never attended a game at Notre Dame, and mother are going to be at the game for senior day. He also said it was hard knowing he won't be able to help his teammates.
"I battle for my teammates and I play hard for them, so it hurts me because I can't do anything," he said. "At this point I'm going to try to be the biggest cheerleader."
The Irish have been struggling with injuries along the defensive line all season. Kelly said Kona Schwenke, who missed the Pitt game with a sprained ankle, and Jarron Jones will split time at nose guard.
Nix said it will be six weeks before he can begin moving around and another few weeks to get his left leg healthy, so he won't be able to play in a bowl game.
Nix said he's happy his mother, who couldn't attend his senior day in high school because she couldn't afford to take the time off from work, and his father will be able to be on the field with him Saturday.
"I'm happy for them because they get to share something special with me at this great university. Because they know it turned my life around," he said. "I had a lot of things growing up, a lot of issues. A lot of things that could have happened to me that didn't."
Nix hasn't thought a lot about whether to turn pro and isn't sure what factors will weigh in his decision.
"I don't know what to consider. This is a great place, a great university and it's done a lot for my life. I feel like if I do come back it will still do numerous things for me and it will help me out. So there are a lot of choices on both sides," he said.
He's focused now on getting healthy, not on the NFL, and doesn't know when he will make a decision.
"I don't think either decision is wrong," he said.
Nix, who committed to Notre Dame after Charlie Weis was fired and before Kelly was hired, finishes the season with 27 tackles this season through eight games and 122 career tackles in 34 games. Kelly said if Nix doesn't return, he'll be remembered for his competitiveness.
"He's also that marquee defensive lineman that Notre Dame has not had in a long time, that physical presence on the defensive line that was talked about a lot when I got here that Notre Dame couldn't get. So he set a great precedent that you can get those players at Notre Dame and they can succeed," he said.
Author: TOM COYNE, Associated Press