'Bama's mountain of a nosetackle: 365-pound Terrence Cody
It's going to happen at some point this season. Some offensive coordinator will forget that No. 62 is on the other side of the line of scrimmage and call a middle screen to a running back. The center will drop into a pass-blocking stance, but neither of the guards will fall in along side him for support.
So pay attention, SEC playcallers. If you don't want your backs to suffer the same fate as the
That may be the only sensible course of action against Cody, who, despite being lightly recruited out of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Perkinston, Miss., has helped change his team's fortunes more than any other newcomer in the nation this season. On Saturday, No. 3 Georgia will try to scale Mount Cody when the Bulldogs face the No. 8 Crimson Tide between the hedges in Athens. If Alabama's first four games are any indication, the Bulldogs might be better off running round the mountain.
Cody opened his Alabama career by helping the Tide hold Clemson and stud running backs
So how is it that Alabama found itself as the only contestant in the race to sign a virtually unblockable defensive lineman?
Cody's weight hovered near 400 during his time in Perkinston, and some coaches don't believe a player that heavy has the stamina or the athletic ability to make an impact at the college level. "A lot of people are just wary of guys that big," Campbell said. "You know when people say that if things seem too good to be true that they usually are. A big guy like that who's that athletic, you just don't believe what you're seeing."
Fortunately for Cody, neither Campbell nor Jones had that attitude. Cody received no recruiting interest while at Riverdale because he played only his freshman and senior seasons. Jones said Cody's father died when Cody was 12, and Cody had to spend afternoons during his sophomore and junior seasons babysitting his younger brother. Finally, before his senior season, Cody approached Jones about playing football again.
Of course, after the tailback-squashing incident at spring practice, Jones had to institute The Terrence Rules. Cody wasn't allowed to tackle opponents at practice. He could only wrap them up. One day, Cody met a 230-pound fullback in the A gap. Cody picked up the kid, slung him over his shoulder and kept charging through the backfield.
"Is that what you want, Coach?" Cody asked Jones.
"Yep," Jones said. "That'll do."
Cody dominated as a senior. Against North Fort Myers, he had a memorable collision with future West Virginia star
Because Cody hadn't played as a junior or hit the camp circuit, few college coaches knew about him. Campbell and his staff might never have known had running backs coach
"Wow," both coaches said.
"TC stood out like a sore thumb," Campbell said. "He was dominating in high school. You didn't have to watch but a couple plays and you knew he could be a difference-maker."
Even Cody's brief career as a fullback suggested to Campbell that he wasn't dealing with some sluggish giant. "It was hilarious watching high school kids try to tackle him," Campbell said. "He just waded through people like a bulldozer. You could see the athleticism watching him run the ball. He would spin and twist." Campbell called Jones immediately. Jones asked if Campbell could mail Cody scholarship forms. Campbell said he'd FedEx them.
Once Campbell fitted him in a pair of size 18 cleats and an XXXXXL jersey, Cody played with a motor, and he had the quickness and agility of a player 150 pounds lighter. At first, Cody's teammates didn't know what to think of him. Former Mississippi Gulf Coast center
That didn't last long. Helms and his teammates realized quickly that, off the field, Cody might be the world's largest teddy bear. Cody, an avid watcher of The Cartoon Network, slept on Batman sheets. "I've walked in on him watching
On the practice field, Helms rarely attempted to block Cody without help. Asked how he feels when he flips on the TV and sees offensive linemen trying to block Cody, Helms chuckled. "That's a good word," he says. "
Everyone who has spent significant time with Jones on the field feels this way, and that's why Campbell was so dumbfounded when college coaches would pass on Cody. "He's a different animal," Campbell said. "He can dominate at that level. That's what I tried to tell everybody."
Campbell even went over the college coaches' heads, telling an NFL scout buddy to take a look at Cody. The scout said some team might take a flier on Cody on the draft's second day. Campbell argued that Cody is a top-five pick. That same scout attended the Alabama-Clemson game. That night, Campbell received a text message from the scout: "Cuz, you were right."
Alabama coaches didn't shy away from Cody. "They wanted me bad," Cody said. "They said they felt like I was the missing part of the defense." They just wanted that piece to be a little smaller. Preseason reports had Cody's weight hovering near 400 again, but Bama coach
Cody worked out extra and changed his eating habits; he cut out late-night meals and ate on a more typical schedule. He also stayed active off the field. Cody's offseason sumo matches in the dorms against fellow nose tackle
Even though schools stayed away, opposing coaches know all about Cody now. Georgia's
So what will the Bulldogs do? They can throw. While Cody is far more quick and agile than a man his size should be, he still won't reach the quarterback as fast as smaller linemen. Georgia also can be selective about when it runs up the middle. Like most defensive linemen, Cody doesn't play every down. Of course, his backup, Chapman, is no picnic, either. But when Cody is on the field, the middle is not an option. So if the Dawgs try to slam the ball inside near the goal-line only to have No. 62 obliterate the play, Campbell, Jones and the others who believed in Mount Cody all along will shake their heads and smile.
"These people who try to run right at him," Jones said, "have lost their minds."