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Friday, March 4, 2011
Nick Fairley talks 'NCAA Football 12,' Auburn's perfect season and Cam Newton

NCAA Football 12
Nick Fairley wants your vote for the "NCAA Football 12" cover.

Calling Nick Fairley a beast isn't giving the kid enough credit.

He's more like the monster who ate the beast for breakfast.

And it's Fairley's ferocious pursuit of pounding quarterbacks that has made him one of the NFL's most wanted in this year's draft, not to mention a player who video game publisher EA Sports is ready to bankroll as the face of its upcoming game, "NCAA Football 12." That is, if Fairley can win a fan vote among some of college football's most elite players from last season, including Mark Ingram, Jake Locker and DeMarco Murray.

But Fairley is already working on his pitch to sway the masses.

"I'd be the first defensive tackle to be on the cover of the game," he tells me. "I'm a big gamer, so it would mean a lot to me. I play 'Madden,' 'NCAA Football,' 'NBA 2K11,' and a little 'Call of Duty,' so if I could be on the cover of 'NCAA Football 12,' it would really be a blessing.

"I remember as a kid at Christmas, you would open your presents and hope you got the video game you wanted. And to think that some kid out there would open his gifts and see my face on the cover of the game he wanted is unbelievable to me. To have this opportunity really feels good."

Jon Robinson: You're not only in the running to be on the cover of "NCAA Football 12," but you're also going to be in "Madden" for the first time this year. Growing up, did you ever imagine that you'd be in a video game?

Nick Fairley: Growing up and playing football in the street, we used to always pretend we were the guys in the game or the guys on the cover. I remember when Ray Lewis was on the cover, if you made a big hit, then you hit like Ray Lewis in the game. You tried to bring that Hit Stick to the street. The game has so much influence over the kids, I don't think people even realize.

Jon Robinson: Do you have any advice for EA Sports on how they should create you for "Madden NFL 12?"

Nick Fairley: Dominating, just dominating. Make me a beast (laughs).

Jon Robinson: What was the difference for you last season? How were you able to transform from just another defensive tackle to one of if not the most dominant defensive linemen in college football?

NCAA Football 12
Vote for me!

Nick Fairley: The year before, I was coming from junior college, and I really didn't know what it took to play at that next level. I just went out and did what I did before. I treated it just like another junior college game, but obviously, it was totally different. So in the offseason, I just dedicated myself to the weight room and worked harder. I had such a great relationship with my strength and conditioning coach, and then I worked hard with my defensive line coach at Auburn in the offseason. He had me really working on my footwork and so many technical things to improve my game, and he did such a tremendous job helping me with everything I needed to know, that when the season started, I could just go out and play football and help the team.

Jon Robinson: Not many teams, not many players know what it's like to have a perfect season. What was the experience like for you last year going undefeated?

Nick Fairley: Nobody's perfect, but we had a perfect season last year, and it just felt so good standing on that podium after the last game and holding up that crystal ball. That was a goal for us going into the season, and a lot of people thought we looked good on paper, but we knew what we had in the locker room and off the field. We knew we were going to be hard to beat, and that was such a great reward, coming out perfect.

Jon Robinson: There is a lot of debate over how well Cam Newton will do in the NFL. What's your take on his skills and how they might transfer over to the next level?

Nick Fairley: Cam's going to do really well. What I like about him is, he's a great athlete, but he's very humble. He doesn't like to lose at football, at video games, at anything. Just being the doer that he is, the competitor that he is, the winner that he is, he's going to do really well.

Jon Robinson: You say he doesn't like to lose in video games. Did you get the chance to play him a lot last year?

Nick Fairley: We had "NCAA Football 11" in the locker room, but we only played against each other once. It wasn't a serious game, but he beat me. It was fun. Like I said, he doesn't like to lose.

Jon Robinson: You just went through the combine. What was that experience like?

Nick Fairley: It's just something you have to get your mind ready for. It's not just about doing the football drills. They have all 32 teams there looking you over, the doctors are pulling on you and examining you, and you have all the interviews, but like I said, through that, you need to have your mind ready to go out there and play football without pads and do your best.

Jon Robinson: How tough is it for you, as a rookie coming into the league, to get your mind ready with so much uncertainty about the season?

Nick Fairley: I'm approaching things in my mind like we're having a season. If we don't, I'll adjust to it then, but right now, I'm working like we're going to play. My pro day is Tuesday, then after that, I'll be back training and getting ready for the NFL and getting ready for the draft.

Jon Robinson: I'm definitely going to draft you in "Madden" this season. But until then, give the fans one last pitch on why you should be on the cover of "NCAA Football 12."

Nick Fairley: We just won the national championship, and of course, you want a winner on there, so come on now, you have to pick me. First defensive tackle on the cover ... let's make it happen!

Head to to cast your vote for the next "NCAA Football 12" cover athlete.