For three years, Auburn football coaches poked and prodded, coaxed and cajoled, begged and pleaded with Nick Fairley, first to get his academics in order so he could play and then to apply himself, to put in the work, both on his body and on his understanding of the game, so he could reach his enormous potential.
Nothing much happened in those three years. It took him two years at a community college to qualify academically at Auburn, and he was underwhelming in his first season in the SEC making just two starts in 2009.
Then came 2010. With a multi-million-dollar carrot dangling in front of him in the form of the NFL draft, Fairley finally put in the time to get his body in shape, finally put in the time to understand the finer points of playing defensive tackle and, lo and behold, he became the most dominant player defensive player in the country, helping Auburn win the national championship.
This brings us to last month at the league meetings in Orlando when Lions general mana...