Louis Nix III will enter NFL draft

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly says nose guard Louis Nix III has signed with an agent and will forgo his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft, where he is projected by many to be a first-round draft pick.

Nix's season came to an end Nov. 21 when he underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. The 6-foot-2, 349-pound senior also had been slowed by tendinitis in the same knee.

Nix, who didn't play as a freshman, told media at the time he was undecided about whether he would return, saying his focus was on getting healthy. He is expected to graduate from Notre Dame this month.

Nix is currently No. 4 on Scouts Inc.'s list of draft-eligible players. He is No. 10 on Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board, as well.

The Jacksonville, Fla., native has been an instrumental force in the middle of the Irish's defense this season, displaying a rare blend of quickness and size that makes him coveted at the next level.

Nix tweeted a message Friday of an emoticon crying and an Instagram photo taken from a car pulling away from Notre Dame with the Golden Dome reflected in the side driver's side mirror.

Information from ESPN.com's Matt Fortuna and The Associated Press was used in this report.