SEC Football history: 50 best players of all time

SEC Football (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
SEC Football (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /
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Auburn football, Nick Fairley
Auburn football, Nick Fairley (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Nick Fairley. 49. player. 842. . DT. Tigers

49. Best SEC football players of all time: Nick Fairley, Auburn football

As a three-star prospect coming out of Williamson (AL) High School, Nick Fairley actually committed to playing for Auburn University, but could not get in academically and had to go to Copiah-Lincoln Community College. After two years at the school, he would finally get to Auburn, and after a solid 2009 campaign, he dominated in 2010.

The 2010 Auburn team was a special one, led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton, and Fairley led a nasty front for the Tigers, racking up 60 tackles. Of those 60 stops, 24.5 of them came for a loss, and include 11.5 sacks, as Fairley helped Auburn to a spot in the BCS National Championship Game against Oregon.

A consensus All-American and Lombardi Award winner, Fairley played his best football in the biggest moments, as he was the Defensive Player of the Game in the title game. Considered a dirty player by his opponents, Fairley was quick and nimble for a guy his size, making it easy for him to get around offensive guards and centers.

After his standout season, he would be the No. 13 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, spending seven years in the NFL, being named a second-team All-Pro in 2012.