Mount Cody wants to take Alabama to summit
Published: Monday, January 4, 2010 at 5:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 4, 2010 at 5:32 p.m.
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Terrence Cody's unyielding presence works best on the football field.
The 6-foot-5, 354-pound All-American nose guard specializes in clogging up the middle, drawing double teams and generally being a disruptive force on the interior of Alabama's defensive line.
Away from the game, his girth is a mixed blessing. He uses it to help diminutive folks like coach Nick Saban.
"You do a lot more things that short people can't do. I help coach on and off the bus," a smiling Cody said. "You intimidate a lot of people. I get a lot of attention when I go out."
Big isn't always best, though. His weight scared off teams recruiting him out of junior college in Mississippi. At Alabama, strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran roused Cody for 6 a.m. cardio sessions in an effort to slim him down.
And using the airplane restroom on the way to California for the BCS championship game against No. 2 Texas was a hassle.
"I got in there, but it took a while because it's not that big of a door," Cody said. "When I got in there, I was like, 'This is it?'"
That's been about the only letdown for Cody since deciding to skip the NFL draft and return for his senior season to help Alabama move into contention for its first national title since 1992.
"I wake up every morning and pinch myself to see if this is real," he said. "Most of us are still in shock we're playing for the national championship."
Thursday's game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena will cap Cody's college career, something that didn't seem probable growing up in Fort Myers, Fla. He played just two years of high school football because of poor grades. At the same time, he was helping his mother care for his seven younger siblings while running with the wrong crowd.
He returned for his senior season and dominated, with Miami and South Florida offering scholarships. But Cody's grades weren't good enough to qualify, so he went off to junior college in Mississippi for two years.
That's where his weight, which topped 400 pounds and earned him the nickname "Mount Cody," turned off recruiters. He slimmed down, though, and got offers from Miami, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Soon Saban was contacting him, too.
"I thought he would've been bigger. He was like a midget," Cody said, referring to his first impression of Saban. "He told me, 'We need a body like yours to play in the middle. We think you can stop the run.' That really motivated me."
Cody anchors a defensive line that comes into the BCS game allowing just 77.9 rushing yards per game, second best in the nation. He's recorded 25 tackles and six tackles for loss on the Crimson Tide's total defense, also No. 2 in the country.
"If you watch film or you see statistically he doesn't have a lot of tackles, but he does so much more for this defense," All-American linebacker Rolando McClain said. "He holds up offensive linemen so that I can run around and I can make all those or Cory (Reamer) can make all those plays."
Cody blocked two field goals to preserve a 12-10 win over Tennessee in the Tide's closest game of the season, keeping Alabama undefeated en route to a 13-0 season.
"On the second one, I got a good jump on the snap, stuck my arm up and closed my eyes," he said, pointing to the spot on his left arm where the ball briefly left a red mark.
Weight may be the only flaw affecting Cody's future in the NFL, where he's regarded as a top prospect. He dropped 10 pounds during Cochran's preseason conditioning program that involved starting the day with 30 minutes of cardio before classes.
"It was hard," he said. "Any other big guy with me probably would've quit. It wasn't certain things I was eating. I was eating at the wrong times. I wasn't eating in the morning. I was eating a lot at night."
Temptation at the table awaited Sunday night when the Tide was set to chow down at Lawry's in Beverly Hills, where slabs of rare prime rib awaited.
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