Tigers Express Confidence In New Center

Tunde Fariyike

Auburn sophomore Tunde Fariyike will start at center for the Tigers against Clemson.

Auburn, Ala.—When Tunde Fariyike's name first came up in Auburn recruiting circles most people had questions surrounding him and his future on the Plains because he wasn't a well-known prospect.

A two-star offensive lineman out of Upson-Lee High in Thomaston, Ga., Fariyike is the son of a doctor. He had offers from Duke, Air Force, Navy and East Carolina, but something about Auburn spoke to him and he went with the Tigers on signing day after getting a late offer from Gene Chizik's team.

After redshirting in 2010 and playing mostly on special teams in 2011 with his only action against Ole Miss, Fariyike entered the 2012 preseason as an afterthought with sophomore Reese Dismukes the man at center for Auburn following an All-SEC freshman season. Over the weekend, however, everything changed as Dismukes was arrested for public intoxication and subsequently suspended by Coach Gene Chizik. That left the door wide open for Fariyike, and on Sunday Chizik slammed the door shut by naming the redshirt sophomore as the starter at center for the Clemson game.

"We've got a lot of confidence in him," Chizik said. "I think Tunde is excited about the opportunity that has presented itself. He's going to study the game, and has a great week to prepare."

Studying is something Fariyike doesn't have a problem with. A Biomedical Sciences major, Fariyike is known as a perfectionist by his teammates and he doesn't disagree with that term.

"That's the way it is," Fariyike said. "That's the way Coach (Scot) Loeffler wants it to be. That's the way Coach (Jeff) Grimes wants it to be. That's the way I want it to be. I'm trying to be perfect."

As the starter at center Fariyike will be flanked by Auburn's only experienced offensive linemen available this week with senior John Sullen at left guard and Chad Slade at right guard. That's something that Fariyike said is a big plus for him and Sullen added that he's seen nothing but positives from his new running mate on the line.

"Like I said, he's smart, he's very smart," Sullen said. "He's intelligent. You know he's going to make every call and he's going to do what he has to do.

"The center has to be the smartest person on the field, quarterback included. The center has to be the smartest person on the field because he has to know what we're going to do, and he has to know what the defense is going to do also. His intelligence helps a lot. Tunde's always been a hard worker, and you know he's going to do what he has to do so there were no questions about it."

As someone who has seen Fariyike from across the ball the last two years, middle linebacker Jake Holland has probably gone up against Auburn's new center as much as anyone since the two arrived on campus in the same class. Now with Fariyike called on to get the job done for the Tigers as the starter, Holland said he has no question his teammate can handle it.

"I think Tunde is going to step up," Holland said. "I think Tunde is going to take this job and run with it. He got his number called, and that's just what it takes to be a great football player. When somebody calls your name, you have to step up and take the job. I think he can get it done. He's a smart guy."

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