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Despite his reputation among some opponents, he comes across in person as genial and playful. He ran in front of the TV cameras filming Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton before Wednesday’s practice and said, “‘Get the cameras over here on us,’” cornerback T’Sharvan Bell said, chuckling at the memory.

“He’s a goofball,” Bell said. “Don’t let him fool you, he’s an outright goofball. All the time he’s joking around. He doesn’t care who it is. When it’s time to be serious, he’s serious. But he’s a goofball. Anytime off the field, he’s a goofball.”

Fairley seems to have embraced the attention lately after being somewhat publicity-shy for much of the season. He even signed up for a Twitter account just over a week ago and already has 7,500-plus followers. However, Friday morning he went into tweet lockdown.

“This is my last tweet until the 10th!” he tweeted. “Its been fun! WAR EAGLE!”

It took Fairley awhile to come into his own as a player, too. He failed to qualify out of high school in Mobile, Ala., and spent a season at a Mississippi community college.

Before that, he wasn’t that highly rated by recruiting services as a 250-pound offensive lineman. Then-Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville has said he was sold after watching Fairley play basketball.

Despite his size, teammates still say Fairley is the team’s best hoops player.

“You’ve got to watch him play,” Tigers defensive end Nosa Eguae said. “He plays like Charles Barkley out there. There was a rumor going around that he had an offer from Kentucky in basketball, but I didn’t believe it. Then he came on the court and he’s very good.”

Fairley said his high school coaches told him the Wildcats were looking at him but he had already decided to play football.

Chances are, the officials in Monday night’s game will also be keeping an eye on Fairley. He was flagged in the regular-season finale against Alabama _ Auburn’s first outing since the Georgia game _ for a relatively muted celebration of a third-down sack. It kept a Crimson Tide touchdown drive alive.

Rocker said Fairley & Co. can’t be overly concerned about any extra scrutiny from the referees.

“We leave it all on the field,” he said. “We can’t control what the ref does. You go out there, you leave it on the field. You get one shot at it, you play within the rules of the game, enjoy it, have fun. Football is blocking and tackling and playing within the rules, and that’s all we can do.”