Fairley's announcement was made at Williamson High School, where he was a football and basketball standout. His announcement to enter the draft was not a surprise.
"It has always been my dream to play in the NFL," Fairley tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "That has been my goal since I was a little kid.
"I was very close to my grandfather and I would spend Sunday afternoons with him watching the NFL games and he said he hoped someday that he would be able to watch me play in the NFL," Fairley points out. "He passed away several years ago, but I know he would be proud of me having that opportunity."
The defensive tackle is considered a possibility to be the first player selected in this year's draft after having a terrific season that included leading his team to the BCS National Championship.
Along the way the 6-5, 300-pounder was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year while earning consensus All-American honors.
Like his position coach at Auburn, Tracy Rocker, Fairley won the Lombardi Award as the nation's top lineman.
"Coach Rocker has been a big influence on me and I give him a lot of credit for making me a better player," Fairley says.
The defensive lineman played two seasons for the Tigers. He originally signed with Auburn as a high school senior, but spent two seasons at Copiah-Lincoln Junior College in Mississippi, playing one year and redshirting the other.
He did not play in 2007 as a true freshman and the following season he made 63 tackles with seven sacks for his juco team.
He played in all 13 games in 2009 for the Tigers and started twice. He made 28 tackles with 3 1/2 stops for losses and was credited with 1 1/2 sacks.
Fairley says his best game of the 2009 season was in the bowl victory over Northwestern. "Coach Rocker told me that I was going to have to step up it for that game," he said. "He had us in great shape for that game. I thought I played really well and that gave me a lot of confidence going into the next season."
Fairley celebrates his team's national championship in Glendale, Ariz., on Monday night.
He started all 14 games for the unbeaten 2010 Tigers and made 60 tackles. He finished the season with an Auburn record 11 1/2 quarterback sacks and 24 tackles for losses, which is also an AU record.
Rocker notes that Fairley has made major strides as a player since arriving at Auburn. The coach says, "He has taken it upon himself to become educated about the game of football and is no longer just waiting until we coaches come in and say, ‘This is what you need to do.' Now he is looking at video and will say, ‘Coach, you know if so and so does this or this, I think I am going to be able to work this or that.'
"Now that Nick is attuned to the game and understanding it he has found out there is more to it," Rocker added. "That is the self motivation part of football I am trying to sell a lot of the players on. I tell them to take the initiative and then see what you can get out of it."
Rocker says that he has no doubts that Fairley can be successful as an NFL lineman. "Nick has a tremendous amount of ability," the coach says.
Head coach Gene Chizik agrees. "Nick emerged into a very dominant player this season and was a key factor for the success of our championship run," Chizik says.
"His ability to control the line of scrimmage was truly amazing. We know that Nick loves Auburn, but this decision is in the best interest of him and his family. We wish him well as he takes the next step in his football career and life."