Notre Dame nation galvanizes as former Irish star Louis Nix III is reported missing

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

The calls go straight to a full voicemail box. The texts go unanswered. And the angst grows exponentially with each passing day that Louis Nix III is deemed missing.

A day after Nix’s mother, Stephanie Wingfield, texted Jacksonville, Fla., TV reporter Ben Becker on Friday night asking for his help in helping to locate the former Notre Dame standout nose guard, Notre Dame nation galvanized in spreading the word.

But, as of Saturday afternoon, Jacksonville police had not received any tips to Nix’s whereabouts. According to Wingfield, Nix was last seen leaving his father’s residence in Jacksonville on Tuesday.

“NOTRE DAME Nation: Let’s all do our best to reach out and connect with Louis Nix,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly tweeted on Saturday. “Louis, let us know you are doing alright or that you may need your NOTRE DAME family and friends for assistance.”

“This makes me sick to my stomach and pray that this all ends well,” tweeted Tony Alford, a former Irish assistant coach who currently coaches running backs at Ohio State.

“I recruited Louis to Notre Dame and have always kept in touch with him since our days spent together at ND!! Prayers to he and his family!”

Anyone with information on Nix’s whereabouts is encouraged to call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500.

Wingfield told Becker she believes her son is in danger.

Nix’s disappearance comes a little less than three months after the 29-year-old survived being shot in the chest during a Dec. 8 bungled armed robbery attempt at a Jacksonville gas station.

He spent 11 days in the hospital, suffering a fractured sternum with the bullet still lodged in his left lung after doctors deemed it too risky to remove it.

The aftershocks of being ambushed while putting air in his car’s tire the night of the attempted robbery haunted Nix.

“I went out shopping with my girl to get my mom a birthday gift, and it was crazy,” Nix told the Tribune after coming home from the hospital. “You wouldn’t think you’d feel like that, but I was just paranoid being around people.

“People coming up from behind me, coming out of nowhere. I felt like I just needed to see everything, and it was kind of emotional in the moment.

“I didn’t think it’d be like this. My job (Cintas Corp.) is going to provide a therapist for me, and I’m open to talking about this issue. Hopefully, they’ll help me get past that point and learn how to deal with it, because at this point, I really don’t want to leave the house again.”

More than $41,000 was raised through Nix’s gofundme page to help offset medical expenses and missed work.

Nix, self-proclaimed "Irish Chocolate," played for the Irish from 2010-13, He redshirted as a freshman, then ascended to become a standout on the 2012 team that reached the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama.

He battled injuries in 2013, then declared for the draft after the season instead of returning to ND for a fifth year. He was still able to keep a promise to his mom to get his ND degree.

The Houston Texans selected Nix in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but multiple knee surgeries kept him from ever appearing in an NFL game for Houston or the three other teams he’d sign with after his initial release. His last contact was with the Jacksonville Jaguars for four months early in 2017.

Former Irish nose guard Louis Nix III visits with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly after Nix attended ND’s 2014 season opener with Rice, Aug. 30, 2014, at Notre Dame Stadium.