(AP) Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix III has signed with an agent and will forego his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft, where he is projected by many to be a first-round draft pick.
Coach Brian Kelly also said at a news conference Sunday that defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt, a junior, has submitted paperwork to get an evaluation where he likely would be selected if he entered the draft. He also has been projected as a possible first-round pick.
Kelly said he's talked some with Tuitt about his decision, but not in depth.
"I've had some preliminary conversations about his academic work. He still has some work to do academically. But we haven't really delved into the depth of that," Kelly said.
Kelly said he believes Tuitt should stay and earn his degree before entering the draft.
"I think you come to Notre Dame to get a degree, and I think getting a degree is very important in this whole process," he said.
He pointed to wide receiver Michael Floyd, linebacker Manti Te'o and tight end Tyler Eifert as players who returned to Notre Dame when they could have left early as examples of players doing well in the NFL. Kelly said Nix's situation is different.
Nix, who is academically a senior, said last month he was taking 19 hours of classes this semester so he could earn his degree. When asked whether he thought Nix made the right choice, Kelly said he believes the best decision Nix made was to attend Notre Dame and get his degree.
"The rest of those (decisions), you're splitting hairs," he said. "We'll find out, because you're taking a gamble no matter what."
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.
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.
Nix signed with an agent before Kelly could tell him that would mean he couldn't travel with the 25th-ranked Irish (8-4) to New York to face Rutgers (6-6) in the Pinstripe Bowl.
"Louis in New York would be cool, especially around Christmas time. So that's unfortunate," he said.
Kelly also said quarterback Everett Golson, who will find out later this month whether he will be readmitted to school after being suspended for the semester for what he termed "poor judgment on a test," will not practice with the team leading up to the bowl game. Kelly had previously said if Golson were readmitted, he could practice after the semester ends on Dec. 20.
Kelly said what with the bowl being played on Dec. 28, that isn't a possibility because there isn't enough time.
"We're just not going to have the time or the place to get him in to practice," Kelly said.
Kelly said he plans to travel to Myrtle Beach on Monday to meet with Golson, saying he thinks Golson will come back as a better player than the one that helped the Irish get to the national championship game last season, but not necessarily because of his work with quarterback coach George Whitfield.
"I think we're going to get a better person and someone more committed because he's going to be someone who is more committed to being a better student and more committed to everything he does. I think that's going to be a better quarterback at Notre Dame," he said.
Starting left guard Chris Watt will miss the bowl game after tearing his medial collateral ligament in the final regular-season game against Stanford.
Kelly also said cornerback Lo Wood and tight end Alex Welch, both seniors with a year of eligibility left, have been granted releases to transfer to other schools after the season ends. Wood was expected to be a starter last season before sustaining a preseason Achilles tendon injury. He has 10 tackles as a backup cornerback and on special teams this season. Welch has one catch for 8 yards in as a sophomore, missed last season with a knee injury and doesn't have a catch this season.