2013 Top 25 Player Countdown: No. 1

Junior defensive tackle Louis Nix is the linchpin in Notre Dame's defense. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Irish Chocolate is our preseason winner.

No. 1: Louis Nix

Previous ranking: No. 2

Making the case: The best post-regular season news Notre Dame received was Nix's decision to return to school. He was the Irish's best defensive player in the Discover BCS National Championship loss to Alabama, and interior linemen like him just don't come around too often. (And we're not just talking about his larger-than-life personality.) Nix is listed at 357 pounds entering this season, though Brian Kelly has said that the next step for Nix is to become an every-snap player. Nix is coming off a redshirt sophomore campaign that saw him notch 50 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, five pass breakups, five passes defended, three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. As previously stated in this space, one needs to look no further than the Pitt game to understand Nix's value, as Ray Graham rushed for 172 yards in a game that Nix was limited in because of flu-like symptoms. One more year of similar production and Nix could see his name called very early on Night 1 of the NFL Draft.

The countdown

No. 2 Stephon Tuitt

No. 3 Zack Martin

No. 4 Bennett Jackson

No. 5 Prince Shembo

No. 6 TJ Jones

No. 7 DaVaris Daniels

No. 8 Chris Watt

No. 9 Tommy Rees

No. 10 Danny Spond

No. 11 George Atkinson III

No. 12 Dan Fox

No. 13 Matthias Farley

No. 14 KeiVarae Russell

No. 15 Christian Lombard

No. 16 Sheldon Day

No. 17 Carlo Calabrese

No. 18 Jarrett Grace

No. 19 Amir Carlisle

No. 20 Troy Niklas

No. 21 Elijah Shumate

No. 22 C.J. Prosise

No. 23 Ishaq Williams

No. 24 Kyle Brindza

No. 25 Greg Bryant