MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- In his dreams, Louis Nix III still is a fullback, carrying the football like he did in middle school. But in reality, the fullback is trapped inside the 6-3, 326-pound body of a nose tackle, the anchor of the defensive line that makes it possible for All-American inside linebacker Manti Te'o to run free to the ball.
When Nix reached high school, he realized he was too slow to carry the ball.
"They put me at my natural position," Nix said of the move to defensive line. "I was like, 'I really don't want to play this. I want the ball in my hands.'
"But my mom told me, 'Keep playing or get out of my house.' My mom was stressing that I needed to keep playing ball so I could get the opportunity to go to college . . . She made sure I stayed humble and kept working, and now I'm here."
Nix has a big job Monday night in the BCS National Championship Game at Sun Life Stadium. He has to line up against Alabama All-American center Barrett Jones and try to stop the Crimson Tide's pair of 1,000-yard backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon from running the ball down Irish throats.
"They get a lot of points off running," Nix said. "That's their bread and butter. I would be really disappointed in myself if I couldn't stop the run when I know it's my job to do it. But that's football, and I'm going to try my best."
Even before the Irish knew they would be facing Alabama for the national title, Nix was well aware of Jones, the Rimington Award winner as the top center in the nation.
"I don't expect this to be an easy battle in the trenches against him," Nix said. "Alabama is the best of the best right now. We just want an opportunity to play against them."
Things figure to get pretty rough, but Nix is likely to show Jones plenty of respect. Recalling the Stanford game last season, Nix said he complimented quarterback Andrew Luck so much that Luck gave him a hug when it was over.
That's part of Nix's fun-loving nature. A film and TV major, Nix has thousands of Facebook friends and followers on Twitter. He now goes by the handle @IrishChocolate9 after asking his followers to give him a nickname. He also has a YouTube series he calls "Chocolate News" to give fans a peek at his life.
The BCS title game is just the next episode.