SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame will have two players that helped it gain an advantage on the lines back next season.
Coach Brian Kelly announced during Notre Dame’s BCS championship media day Monday that redshirt junior left tackle Zack Martin and junior nose guard Louis Nix III will return next season instead of entering the NFL draft. No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0) plays No. 2 Alabama (12-1) in the title game Jan. 7 in Miami.
Both players made the decision before receiving their evaluations from the NFL.
The 6-foot-4, 304-pound Martin will return for a fifth season after being named the team’s best offensive lineman the past three seasons.
The main reasons I wanted to come back were I wanted to play with my little brother (sophomore offensive lineman Nick Martin); I wanted to finish it out with (left guard Chris) Watt; and ultimately, I wanted to play another year with (offensive line coach Harry) Hiestand. He’s taken my game to a new level this year, Martin said.
The 6-3, 326-pound Nix will return for a third season after registering 45 tackles with 5 1/2 tackles for loss this season.
I’m glad it is over with, Nix said of making the decision to return. It’s like the recruiting process. When you finally do it, it is a lot of weight off your shoulders.
Waiting to decide
Running back Cierre Wood has not decided about returning for a fifth year or entering the NFL draft. The 6-foot, 215-pound senior, who didn’t play as a freshman, ran for 740 yards with four touchdowns this season after running for 1,102 yards and nine TDs last year.
Cierre Wood is going to wait for his evaluation before he makes a decision, Kelly said.
On the mend
Receiver DaVaris Daniels is still on track to return for the BCS title game.
The 6-2, 190-pound sophomore broke his clavicle in a 21-6 win at Boston College Nov. 10 and missed the last two games. Kelly said Daniels was able to practice without contact last week and will be in contact situations next week. He looks really good, Kelly said. He’s going to be able to be a key contributor for us.
Kelly said reserve offensive linemen Ronnie Stanley and Matt Hegarty had surgery and will not be available for the title game. Kelly said both should return for spring practice.