AU's largest defensive lineman wasn't totally unknown to the coaching staff when he walked on last season, but he wasn't far from it.
"Nathan did a great job in the spring," Dunn says. "He was a little bit out of shape, but has made great progress in both the classroom and on the field. He is a hard worker. He works jobs after practice and is a walk on."
Farrow is a 6-4, 310-pound redshirt freshman from Clay-Chalkville High. He originally signed to play for a small college with some high school buddies, but decided he wanted to give the big-time a shot so he stayed in state and enrolled at Auburn University.
"I think he will get some playing time, hopefully this year, because he is a great kid," Dunn says. "He works hard and he loves it. Any kid who will work that hard at practice, and between practices, and maintain what we are doing as well as pay his own way, you have got to admire him."
Farrow spent last fall in anonymity on the scout team, but caught the coaches' attention with his effort in winter workouts. He carried that over into spring practice where he had some good outings in one on one drills and in scrimmages.
The big lineman earned more respect on a physical, full pads practice day when he put on a good show in one on one drills vs. several of the offensive linemen. As his defensive teammates cheered him on, Farrow's intensity drew big smiles from Dunn and Terry Price, who coaches the defensive ends. Even Hugh Nall, the offensive line coach who doesn't like to see any defensive linemen making a good play, yelled an encouraging word to the walk-on about his effort.
Farrow says earning some respect from his teammates and coaches is a positive start. "That is definitely a good feeling," he says. "A lot of times the walk-ons are just as good an athlete as some of the scholarship guys. I went out there in the spring with the attitude that I wasn't just going to be a blocking dummy for them and I can be as good an athlete as they are. I have decided to work hard to prove it."
Farrow, shown during the A-Day Game, got plenty of work in spring training.
The defensive lineman is not a novice when it comes to playing the sport. "I started playing football when I was six years old in Selma, Ala., in a pee wee league and have been playing ever since," he tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I lived in Selma until I was 13 and I moved to Mississippi and lived there until my ninth grade year when we moved back to Alabama. Then I played at Clay-Chalkville High in Birmingham."
He was a three-year starter in high school at offensive tackle. He was honorable mention All-State as a senior and made The Birmingham News All-Metro team. He also saw spot duty at defensive tackle. As a junior, he wrestled, finishing eighth in the state in the heavyweight division."
Price, who recruits the Birmingham area for the Tigers, noticed Farrow and invited him to walk on. However, the lineman decided to take a different route to college. He and several teammates decided to play together on a small college team.
"I originally signed to play at Maryville College in Tennessee, which is a Division III school," Farrow says. "One of my friends kind of backed out. I started thinking about it and I realized that I had wanted to play at Auburn since I was little.
"My dad is an Auburn graduate and I decided I wanted to give it a try," he adds. "I decided that if I went to a Division III school I would never know if I could play Division I, so I walked on at Auburn. So far, it has gone pretty good."
After changing plans, Farrow called Price and asked if he could still walk on and the Auburn coach told the lineman to go for it.
Farrow notes that walking on is a challenge. "I guess the hard part of it would be all the crap you have to deal with as a freshman, but I guess everybody has to go through that with Coach Yox's redshirt workouts and the summer workouts that we are going through right now."
Farrow, who has been working about 20 hours a week at a farm in addition to taking classes and doing football workouts, says he is excited about the progress he is making.
"When I came in, pretty much nobody knew who I was," he says. "I remember a lot of the coaches didn't know anything about me--who I was or what year I was. Coach Dunn didn't know anything about me. I went through the fall and got put on the scout team and I redshirted.
"In the spring, Josh (Josh Thompson) and T.J. (Tommy Jackson) both got hurt so that moved me up and I played a lot. In the A-Day Game, I played on the second team with Tez Doolittle. Coach Dunn told me he thought I had a really good spring. He told me to make sure I kept working hard."
Farrow should be able to provide depth at both inside positions on the defensive line. "It really doesn't matter to me whether I play tackle or noseguard," he says. "I really kind of like playing noseguard where things are crowded in around me and I am right on the ball, but I will be glad to play wherever I get a chance to get on the field."
The big question is why the big lineman decided to try out as a defensive lineman at Auburn after spending most of his time in high school on the other side of the football?
"Barry Ryan, my offensive line coach in high school, told me he would just jump in the shortest line," Farrow explains with a grin. "When I got here I was watching practice and we just had a ton offensive linemen and there wasn't nearly as many defensive linemen. I had played there some in high school and kind of knew what was going on there so I decided to jump in the short line."
Based on how the experiment has progressed to date, the short line might be the right line for Nathan Farrow.