NCAA Football Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly Gets Early Christmas Present

Gary A. Vasquez – USA TODAY SPORTS

Brian Kelly began Notre Dame‘s BCS National Championship Game media day by announcing a couple of his star players will be returning next season rather than opting for the NFL a year early.

Starting offensive tackle Zack Martin (6-foot-4, 304 pounds) will be back, meaning the Irish could have one of college football’s best offensive lines in America next season or at the very least a could nucleus from which to build around into a very formidable group.

“He will not wait for the NFL to give him a draft status,” said Kelly of Martin. “As you know, he’s our Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman and to have him back, along with Chris Watt and Christian Lombard, give us three very veteran offensive linemen returning for next year.

Like Martin, behemoth defensive lineman Louis Nix III will return for his third season at Notre Dame. The 6-3, 326-pounder will definitely be one of the best interior d-linemen in the country next fall.

“We are excited about getting Louis back,” Kelly said.

However, Kelly will have to wait and see if talented running back Cierre Wood follows in Martin and Nix’s footsteps rather than jump for the NFL riches.

According to Kelly, Wood will wait for his evaluation from NFL personnel before deciding whether to come back or not.

Speaking of players leaving early for the pro ranks, it has long been believed that Mackey Award winning tight end Tyler Eifert will head to the NFL following the national championship game even though he has another year of college eligibility remaining.

Surprisingly at today’s media day festivities Eifert was noncommittal when asked if the Alabama game would be his last in a Notre Dame uniform.

“I’ll figure that out after the game,” he said.

With that said, Eifert, who admittedly struggled with the decision to turn pro a year ago, said this time around the decision shouldn’t cause as much angst.

Regardless of whether Wood and/or Eifert opt for the NFL, Kelly knows having Martin and Nix back in the fold is a huge boost to both Irish fronts.