I came into Thursday's game between Auburn and Mississippi State focused on the Bulldogs' senior left tackle, Derek Sherrod. The guy who stood out the most, however, was Tigers DT Nick Fairley. When I spoke with people close to the Auburn program this summer, they raved about the 6-foot-4½, 310-pound junior's potential.
Well, Fairley was even better than advertised in the Tigers' 17-14 win. His tremendous burst at the snap gave him an immediate leverage advantage and allowed him to beat double-team blocking easily more than once. To say he did it all in this game is an understatement. Fairley finished with 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 of which were sacks. He also had an interception and a fumble recovery, and he showed good awareness and very good closing speed. If Fairley stays focused on the job at hand and works hard to perfect his craft, the sky is the limit for this young man.