Film Room: How Auburn has unleashed Rivaldo Fairweather down the stretch
The Tigers' top tight end is now the Tigers' top receiver this season. That's because Auburn is using him in a wide variety of ways.
(Austin Perryman/Auburn Tigers)
Before Keldric Faulk and Kayin Lee made their high-profile flips to Auburn…
Before Auburn landed the likes of Jalen McLeod, Gunner Britton, Dillon Wade, Avery Jones and Austin Keys in the transfer portal…
And way before Payton Thorne transferred to the Plains after spring practices…
…Rivaldo Fairweather kicked it all off.
Fairweather was Auburn’s first transfer commitment under new head coach Hugh Freeze, announcing his decision a few days before the early signing period opened last December.
The Fairweather move didn’t have quite the fanfare of the ones that would come later. Fairweather had solid numbers on a bad Florida International team — and Freeze had a good track record of using tight ends in his passing attacks — but, externally, he wasn’t treated as some massive pickup at first.
Jump ahead almost 11 months later. Through 10 games, Fairweather is the leading receiver for an Auburn passing attack that has found some late-season life. He is tied with slot receiver Jay Fair for the team lead at 30 receptions, but he has more yards (305) and has five touchdown receptions.
Not bad for a player who only got one catch for eight yards a month ago against LSU. Since then, Fairweather has had 14 receptions for 152 yards and four touchdowns.
“From the first drive against Ole Miss, I just knew the offense was back to what it used to be, back to what we saw from the spring and the fall camp and all that,” Fairweather said last week. “That's how we get it ticking — get tempo and go fast.”
During spring practices, Fairweather said he wanted to dunk a ball through the goalposts to celebrate a touchdown. He hasn’t done that yet, but the last few weeks alone have given him some opportunities to showcase some moves in the end zone.
Fairweather’s five receiving touchdowns this season — which include the game-winner against Cal back in Week 2 — already give him the most for any Auburn player since Seth Williams in 2019.
In the past decade, only two Tigers have had more receiving touchdowns in a single season: Williams in 2019 (8) and Sammie Coates (7) in 2013. Two more touchdowns would only make him the 18th player in Auburn history to have seven in a single season.
“He’s important to us,” Freeze said Monday.
And Fairweather is doing this at tight end, a position that has even less of a tradition than Auburn’s historically underwhelming wide receiver play.
Among tight ends, Fairweather already has the No. 4 season in Auburn history in terms of receiving yards. He just needs 109 yards to pass John Samuel Shenker for No. 1 in program history. He’s also four receptions away from getting the top spot in single-season receptions from tight ends.
In touchdowns, Fairweather has already matched the late Philip Lutzenkirchen in the 2010 season. He would need three more scores to pass Lutzenkirchen’s record that he set in 2011 — and he’s got three games left, with the Tigers nailing down bowl eligibility last weekend with a blowout win over Arkansas.
“He's an absolute baller out there,” fellow tight end Tyler Fromm said this week. “How he makes plays is always what is most fun to watch.”
But, truthfully, calling Fairweather just a “tight end” should come with an asterisk. Because, in reality, he’s a versatile, do-everything playmaker for an offense that has needed everything it could get from him this season.
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