There are positions where Alabama has had a number of starters over the nine years of the Nick Saban Era at Alabama and others where there have been only a few. Six men have been the primary nose tackles since Saban became Bama’s head coach in 2007, and by almost anyone’s reckoning two would stand out.
Nose tackles aren’t likely to be judged by the things outside of defensive line play, but both Terrence Cody, an All-America in both 2008 and 2009, and A’Shawn Robinson, the starter the past two years, shared a reputation for doing other things.
Cody was the first of the big linemen to be used on a regular basis in Alabama’s goalline offense. It’s not so much that he is remembered for crushing blocks in those situations as he is for defenders making sure to get out of his way. Last year A’Shawn Robinson was used as a goalline fullback and he did have an impact as a blocker.
Both are also remembered for special teams plays, too. Cody’s certainly were more meaningful. He blocked two field goals in a 12-10 win over Lane Kiffin’s Tennessee team in 2009, including one to preserve the victory on the last play of the game as the Tide went on to the national championship.
Robinson’s block of an LSU extra point attempt wasn’t particularly meaningful, but it was spectacular in the fourth quarter of that 30-16 Bama win. The 6-4, 312-pound Robinson did a flat-footed jump; over the LSU center and then blocked the kick.
In our series looking at the top players at each position in the Nick Saban Era at Alabama, we rank Robinson, who just completed his three years of eligibility, the best we have seen. The 2015 All-America, who also had the ability to play end, had 133 total tackles, including 10 sacks.
Cody, a two-time All-America in 2008 and 2009, was a second round NFL draft choice by Baltimore, and we put him second.
Alabama has had other very fine nose tackles in the nine years of the Saban Era.
Lorenzo Washington was the first regular at nose tackle under Saban in 2007, but would move to end in 2008-09. He had 36 tackles and three sacks as nose tackle.
Josh Chapman was a very solid player and Alabama defensive leader in his two years as starting nose tackle in 2010-11. He was drafted in the fifth round by Baltimore.
The colorful Australian, Jesse Williams, played end in 2011 and nose tackle in 2012 and contributed 28 tackles and two sacks. He was a fifth-round draft choice by Seattle.
Brandon Ivory (backup in 2011-12 and starter in 2013) had 24 tackles as the starter.
After Robinson and Cody, we would rank Chapman third, Williams fourth, Washington fifth, and Ivory sixth.