Top 25 player countdown: No. 6

No. 6. Louis Nix, NG

2011 numbers: In his first year of playing following a redshirt season in 2010, Nix started 11 games and appeared in all 13, recording 45 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks.

Making the case for Nix: Nix said entering the 2011 season that the coaching staff said he wouldn't see 20 snaps a game. He was right — for a good reason, as that number often doubled in 2011. He split a lot of time with Sean Cwynar, but Cwynar's broken hand forced him to miss some time early in the season and put even more pressure on Nix, who delivered. Homesickness plagued the Jacksonville, Fla., native this past spring, affecting his play enough for Brian Kelly to put him behind Kona Schwenke. Nix has seemed to rebound nicely this summer, and he and Schwenke should make quite the tandem in the middle.