Mobile AU Recruits Focused on Future

Auburn signees Nick Fairley and Ryan Williams talk about their preparation for Saturday's Alabama-Mississippi Game and about dealing with the academic questions raised about both in recent days.

Mobile, Ala.--It has been a tough week for Auburn signees and Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game participants Nick Fairley and Ryan Williams both on and off the football field. Not only have the two had to handle two-a-day practices to get ready for Saturday night's game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, they have also had to watch as questions concerning their academics arose after a story in the Mobile Press Register.

In a story written last Friday by the Mobile Register, Mobile County School Superintendent Harold Dodge said that two county students' transcripts who eventually signed with Auburn, one each from Williamson High and B.C. Rain High, were being looked at after it appeared that changes were made on each in June of 2006. While Dodge said that the investigation continues, both Fairley and Williams say they are trying to concentrate on the task at hand and not worry about things that are out of their control. Fairley says for him that has been easy to do.

"This week has been a good one for me," Fairley tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "The defense is getting after it and the offense is getting after it. I think we're going to win the game.

"I have pretty much blocked everything else out already," adds Fairley, whose family has hired an attorney to protect the athlete's interests in this situation. "I'm just focusing on this game and getting ready to win on Saturday."

Nick Fairley is an imposing figure on the football field, just as he was in basketball. On Saturday Fairley will become the first player in state history to compete in both the football and basketball all-star games in the same season.

Playing offensive tackle for the Alabama team, Fairley will line up with fellow Auburn signee Jared Cooper on what should be a strong offensive front. While he says he enjoys playing the position, he says that when he gets to Auburn he'll be on the other side of the ball playing his favorite position for the Tigers.

"I'm playing offensive tackle this week, which is my old position," the 6-4, 258 Fairley says. "I'll play defensive end when I get to Auburn. They want me to play on the strong side. It's pretty exciting that I'll get to play defense. I like to hit folks so that will be all right."

Expected to be on the borderline to qualify when he signed with the Tigers in February, Fairley's final decision from the NCAA Clearinghouse likely won't come until sometime later this summer, but that's not the case with Williams, the defensive back says. A solid student throughout high school, Williams says he has already been cleared by the clearinghouse even though the investigation continues. Williams says he plans to move to Auburn in a matter of days to begin working towards next season.

"I have already blocked it out of my mind," says Williams, whose family also hired an attorney. "I wasn't ever worried about it. The media was in my face, but I blocked it out. I report to Auburn on June 10 and I'm already clear. I'm just ready to get started."

Playing cornerback this week, Williams is a player who should get an early look for the Tigers next season with a lack of depth at the position. A physical player with good speed, Williams says this week has been a fun one for him and it has shown him that he needs to step up his game even more in the coming months to be ready next season. A frequent spectator of past All-Star games played in his hometown, Williams says it's a thrill to play in the event and he hopes to use it as a springboard to his Auburn career.

"Things have been great," Williams says. "I mean we're in Mobile where I'm from. All the practices have been intense. We're getting a lot of reps. I'm basically getting ready for Saturday and I'm ready to come out with the win.

"It's a big honor for me to follow in the footsteps of guys like Jamarcus Russell and Deuce McAllister and a lot of others," Williams says. "Knowing that I'm taking the same step they took is real big. It's the best in Alabama versus the best in Mississippi. This is the best competition you can get."

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