An unlikely trio

AUBURN - Before Corey Lemonier put on an Auburn cap on national television, before Auburn coaches even knew for sure what he was going to do, Jake Holland knew.

Jake Holland knew early that Corey Leonier would sign with Auburn/Phillip Marshall photos

Lemonier, one of the gems of Auburn's 2010 recruiting class, called Holland on the morning of signing day and told him he'd made up his mind, that he was going to play for Auburn. That's what his mother wanted and what he wanted. He was going to join two friends - Holland and kicker Cody Parkey.

It was an unlikely trio. The son of Henry and Francoise Lemonier, proud and hard-working Haitian immigrants, Corey Lemonier grew up in just west of Miami in Hialeah, a mostly low-income, high-crime city. Parkey's father, Doug, is senior vice president of Citizens National Bank in the affluent city of Jupiter, Fla. Holland's father, Jeff, is a partner in Vision Security Technologies, a highly successful security firm in Pelham.

Today, Lemonier, Holland and Parkey are headed toward their junior season in which they will play key roles on Auburn's football team. They are roommates at an Auburn apartment and best friends. Over spring break, they all climbed into Parkey's pickup truck and drove to Jupiter, where they spent the entire week at the Parkey household.

"Jake was the last Auburn player Corey talked to morning before he committed," Jeff Holland says. "We knew he was going to commit to Auburn. They've been friends ever since."

All three played in the Under Armour All-America game as high school seniors. Parkey and Holland were already committed. Lemonier, who had already struck up a friendship with Holland, was still uncertain. That's when he heard from Parkey for the first time.

"He just messaged me and asked if I was a Dolphins fan," Lemonier says. "I said 'Yeah, sure I'm a Dolphins fan. Of course. He was like 'I think we are going to be good friends.' We came to our official visits together. We've been friends since then. Now we live together, me, him and Jake."

In the melting pot that is a college football team, who came from where and who has what doesn't always matter. So it is with Lemonier, Holland and Parkey.

"That's all on the side," Lemonier says. "It's just friendship. You don't judge anybody from that."

Parkey readily agrees. Lemonier, he says, is more than a football player, more than a teammate.

"He has a good head on his shoulders," Parkey says. "Coming from where he's from, it's kind of unique how good a kid he really is. He's one of the top defensive ends in the nation, but you'd never know. He's always humble and thankful. He's just a really good guy."

The friendship that was born during recruiting grew stronger when the trio lived on the same dormitory hall as freshmen.

"Every day after two-a-days, we'd play Call of Duty," Lemonier said. "Our friendship began right there."

After their freshman year, their grades in order, they escaped dormitory life and moved into an apartment. As much as they are all different, Jeff Holland says, they are alike.

"All three of them dance to the beat of their own drum," he says. "Sometimes they hang together, sometimes they go three different directions. They are very, very close, but they are all individuals. That's what has brought them all together.

"We love Corey and we love Cody. They are like family."

All three roommates will carry heavy loads for the Auburn football team of 2012. Lemonier is an All-American candidate, a fierce pass rusher. Holland is the middle linebacker, the man responsible for not only plugging the middle and playing pass defense, but getting everyone else lined up in first-year coordinator Brian VanGorder's scheme. Parkey's powerful right leg is crucial in kickoffs and field goals.

Asked about the preseason honors that have come his way, Lemonier shakes his head and speaks for them all.

"That's all hype," he says. "I can't let it get in my head. I'm just focused on this team."

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