Alabama's mountain of a nosetackle: 365-pound Terrence Cody (cont.)
Cody dominated as a senior. Against North Fort Myers, he had a memorable collision with future West Virginia star Noel Devine. "Terrence hit and spun Noel Devine so hard that [Devine] was on the sideline puking," Jones said. When Riverdale had the ball on the goal line, Jones called for handoffs to Cody. "The ball looked like a Nerf ball in his hands," Jones said.
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 Chad Huff not called Jones to inquire about Riverdale tailback Chevon Walker. Jones told Huff that Walker had his grades in order to go to Florida, but if Huff wanted to see a player, he should check out the video of his defensive tackle on Sunshine Preps, a free-to-players service that distributes game tape to colleges. Huff and Campbell gathered around Campbell's computer. Campbell clicked the link.
"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 Keating Helms, now the starter at Louisiana-Monroe, remembers turning to see Cody filling an entire door frame. Helms also remembers his first thought upon seeing Mount Cody. "Straight fear," Helms said.
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 Pokemon," Helms says. Cody said that above all else, he'll always be a Tom and Jerry man. Helms and Cody became fast friends. Helms didn't even mind when Cody sat on his futon and broke it.
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. "Try and block him. I really feel for anybody who has to go against him."
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 Nick Saban had decreed Cody needed to weigh about 365 to have the stamina to be effective. Saban believes Cody can follow in the footsteps of Keith Traylor and Ted Washington, giant run-stuffers who had long and lucrative NFL careers.
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 Josh Chapman were legendary. Chapman, a 305-pounder himself, said he, not Cody, is the Tide's resident Yokozuna. "I've got that leverage," Chapman told reporters last month.
Even though schools stayed away, opposing coaches know all about Cody now. Georgia's Mark Richt, who will force true freshman center Ben Jones to line up facemask-to-facemask with Cody, sang Cody's praises this week. "He's a beast," Richt said. "Nobody's blocking him. No one man is blocking him, and I haven't really seen any double teams blocking him yet either."
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."