Last week, I wrote about how Auburn had been hit hard by the transfer portal this off-season but things would soon be evening out. The evening has begun as this afternoon former UAB defensive tackle Tony Fair announced his intentions to be an Auburn Tigers next season.
Fair held a handful of Power 5 offers from the likes of Auburn, Iowa, Michigan, Ole Miss, and Purdue. He cut his list down to a final 3 of Auburn, Ole Miss, and Purdue but most understood this to be Auburn’s race to lose once the Tigers offered.
Coming out of high school, Fair signed with Indiana State before transferring to Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona where he blossomed. Over those two seasons the big man recorded 144 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks. That production earned him a full ride to UAB where he’s helped anchor one of the C-USA’s best defenses the past 2 seasons.
I imagine if you were creating a nose tackle in NCAA14 the resulting player would look at lot like Fair. A giant of a human being at 6’3” 345 lbs, he’s the definition of a gap stuffer. His size makes it very difficult to move him at the point of attack but it’s his surprising quickness to go with his size that makes him so tough to handle in the run game. I thought he looked more explosive in 2019, especially against Tennessee when he wrecked the Vols OL to the tune of six tackles and two tackles for loss, than in 2020. My suspicion is that the lack of spring ball and COVID restrictions had a major effect on his weight and he lost some quickness this past season. I fully expect him to play closer to around 330 lbs come September and would not be surprised to see him look more like his 2019 self.
Fair’s commitment is an important one for Derek Mason’s 2021 defense. After Jeremiah Wright’s injury and Jay Hardy’s transfer, Auburn essentially has two nose tackles on the roster in Tyrone Truesdell and Lee Hunter. Fair, at minimum, provides a quality backup to Truesdell. It wouldn’t shock me if he won the starting gig either and allowed Truesdell or Hunter to get more work at defensive tackle.
Auburn’s defense struggled stopping the run last fall allowing more than 5 yards a carry four times. Fair gives Auburn someone they can plant in the middle of the defense who will require double teams, keeping Auburn’s excellent linebacker pair free to go make plays in the backfield. I think by the end of next season a lot of Auburn fans will look back on Fair’s commitment as being an important pickup.
Fair is the 3rd to transfer into Auburn’s program this off-season joining outside linebacker Eku Leota and cornerback Dreshun Miller. He’s also far from the last as Auburn appears to be ramping up their portal activity. They are still hard after Vanderbilt safety transfer Donovan Kaufman who could commit at any time along with a pair of running backs in Central Michigan transfer Jordon Ingram and JUCO standout JD Martin who is currently committed to Jackson State.
That’s not all either, per AuburnSports.com’s Jeffery Lee, Auburn is expected to be a major player with Kansas defensive end transfer Marcus Harris who lead the Jayhawks in tackles for loss last fall with 7.5 and entered the portal earlier today.
2019 DL Marcus Harris has entered the transfer portal after redshirting during his true freshman season (played in two games) and finishing 2020 with 27 tackles, 7.5 TFL and 1 FF with Kansas @rivalsmike @JayhawkSlant https://t.co/5kvf5iMQy0— NCAA Transfer Portal (@RivalsPortal) May 12, 2021
Per AuburnUndercover’s Keith Niebuhr, Auburn is also close to snagging former 4-star Aggie signee Ke’Shun Brown who entered the portal earlier this spring. He and Harris are both Montgomery natives who would each have four years of eligibility remaining. The Tigers are also reportedly kicking the tires on FCS All-American defensive back Bydarrius Knighten of Southeast Missouri State.
Auburn’s staff is likely refreshing the portal hourly to see if any offensive tackle help is available. Also don’t count out the Tigers bringing in some QB depth help or a veteran wide receiver. Needless to say, Auburn’s 2021 roster is far from settled.
War Eagle Tony!