Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley has one more thing in common with his position coach after winning the Rotary Lombardi Award as college football’s top lineman.
The junior was presented the award in Houston on Wednesday, joining Tigers defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, who won the award with Auburn in 1988.
Fairley emerged from a group of three other finalists that included Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, who beat him out Monday for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the nation’s top defensive player.
In his second year at Auburn after transferring from junior college, Fairley led the SEC in both sacks (10.5) and tackles for a loss (21). He set the school record in TFLs.
"Knowing that Coach Rocker had won in 1988, and seeing all the other great names on that trophy," Fairley said, "adding my name to it is a tremendous honor."
It was part of a full day of awards for the Tigers. Quarterback Cam Newton was the coaches’ choice for SEC Offensive Player of the Year, left tackle Lee Ziemba was awarded the Jacobs Trophy as the league’s best blocker and head coach Gene Chizik was named Home Depot National Coach of the Year.
Auburn could add to its awards haul Thursday night in Orlando, Fla. Newton is up for the Maxwell (best all-around player) and the Davey O’Brien (best quarterback).Fairley is up for the Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player) and Ryan Pugh the Rimington Trophy (best center).