Cody Has Been Making The Rounds

Terrence Cody has been a travelin' man since Alabama's 32-13 victory over Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. As an All-America and candidate for numerous defensive awards, Cody put in a couple of thousand or so air miles.

And it was primarily because of the five or six feet he put in on the last play of Alabama's game against Tennessee. When Terrence Cody pushed through the offensive line of the Volunteers and blocked a field goal attempt, it did more than preserve Bama's unbeaten season. It made Cody a name for the ages in Crimson Tide football lore.

Now Cody is aiming higher. The 6-5, 354-pound defensive tackle is huge, and he's a huge reason Alabama is undefeated and ranked number one in the nation. He and his Tide teammates will attempt to put another piece of national championship hardware in the Tuscaloosa trophy case on January 7. That's when Alabama meets second-ranked Texas, also 13-0, in the BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

"It would mean a lot," said Cody, who was on a junior college national championship team. I'd be in the history books at Alabama."

Cody doesn't rank among Alabama's tackle leaders. He has 11 primary stops and has been in on 25 tackles. As his teammate, linebacker Rolando McClain who has over 100 tackles would say of Cody's statistics: "That's not what matters."

Alabama Coach Nick Saban agrees. "I think the natutre of his position is not one where you would have a significant amount," Saban said. "I think the value that he creates for us is that he is very difficult to block and he eats up a few blockers that helps the other players on the team play a lot better."

As a result, Cody was a finalist for three of the most prestigious awards in college football – The Bronko Nagurski, the Chuck Bednarik, and the Vince Lombardi. That involved post-season trips to Charlotte, Orlando and Houston.

(One can only imagine the banquet spread for a handful of football stars the size of Cody.)

Cody understands his role in the Saban defense. "I draw a lot of attention, so that gives the other guys one-one-one," he said. "This season we've put a lot of pressure on quarterbacks because we've been getting a lot of one-on-one situations with offensive linemen."

That role could prove difficult against Texas. "They are physical up front," Cody said. "They have some big guys. They try to move you up front so they can create space and create holes for their running backs.

"We have to come out and dominate the line of scrimmage."

Cody said that Texas reminds him of Florida. "Their running style, their playing style, how their offense is built," he said. "They try to get you in space and run the ball and pass the ball."

Cody has seen the Big 12 Championship Game, where Texas had to kick a field goal on the last play of the game to defeat Nebraska. Did he learn anything from that game?

"You have to penetrate the line of scrimmage," Cody said. "They hate penetration. That disrupts everything they do. They do a lot of things on the line of scrimmage, so if you knock them back it kind of disrupts their offense."

Cody will play football after his Alabama career is over. He will go to the Senior Bowl for that January 31 event in Mobile. Then he hopes to play in the NFL.

In Alabama's offense, he said, a nose guard is "just there to clog up the middle and help the linebackers. I enjoy it. And alot of NFL teams are switching to the 3-4 (Alabama's base defense), so that should help me."

Many thought Cody might opt for the NFL draft following his junior season last year. "I thought about it," he said, "but I stuck with my decision. I wasn't going to back out."

He said he thought he made improvement in his game by returning. The primary area in which he said he improved was "rushing the passer. There are still little things I need to work on, but I improved a lot since last year. Coming back was a good thing."

He said Saban wasn't the real influence to get him to return for his final season of college eligibility.

Cody said he made a promise to himself when he signed his scholarship papers that he would earn his degree before he left. "That's why I came back," he said.

Saban thinks Cody can have a professional career, too, and hints that the only thing that might prevent it is Cody himself. It's no secret that Terrence Cody has a difficult time staying in shape and keeping his weight down.

Saban said, "I think a lot of these players they sometimes need to understand that they are constantly being evaluated, in terms of what they do, how they and how they manage issues that they have. I think all those things affect their future. I think Terrence could have a very, very bright future if he makes the choices and decisions to manage himself and the kind of football player he wants to be in a positive way. I think he has a tremendous amount of potential and he has a chance to be a very, very successful player, because they do look for players like him, who are difficult to block, who are good interior players, and can play a special role on the team; and he can certainly do that."

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