Chapman Expects Competent D-Line

It's understandable that Alabama's football team is going to miss All-America nose tackle Terrence Cody as the Crimson Tide rebuilds the defense that helped Bama to a 14-0 season and the 2009 national championship. One aspect of what Cody brought to Bama is in good hands.

The heir apparent at nose tackle is Josh Chapman, a 6-1, 310-pound junior from Hoover. He has played in 27 games over the past two seasons while making two starts and recording 33 tackles.

Alabama is having to replace some 10 starters from last year's defense. An important part of that rebuilding is taking place as the Crimson Tide finished its sixth practice of the spring Monday. The work was in full gear. Bama will work in shells Wednesday, then have its first scrimmage of the spring Friday. Alabama will conclude spring practice Saturday, April 17 with the A-Day Game at 2 p.m. CDT in Bryant-Denny Stadium. ESPN will televise the event, which is open at no admission charge to the public.

While the emphasis of Coach Nick Saban and his staff is on the field, Chapman revealed that Cody's reputation as a funnyman is surpassed by BCS National Championship Game Defensive Most Valuable Player Marcell Dareus.

"Cody is funny, but on the D-Line, I give it to Marcell," Chapman said. "He gets us through practice every day. Little jokes. Singing a little country songs. He gets us through practice."

How about spin moves and stiff arms, the stuff of Dareus' dramatic interception and touchdown run in Bama's 37-21 win over Texas?

"Dance moves," Chapman said. "He can dance, now."

But Chapman, too, is more interested in having a good defensive line. And he thinks Alabama will be good up front.

"Practice has been going really well," Chapman said. "I feel we got a little better as a defensive line today. We have to use these spring practices to become a better football team, and I think we have been able to do that. If you put in the work every day, you are going to become a better football player."

Alabama lost three defensive line staters from a unit that allowed just 76.1 yards per game rushing and just 2.7 yards per carry over the past two years.

"We lost three good starters, but we also feel we can come in and achieve at the same level they did," Chapman said. "Last year the starters were just the three that went on the field. We all backed them and played about the same amount of snaps.

"I don't think there will be a drop off."

He said the 2010 defenders will be as motivated as last year's starters to be run-stoppers. "That's one thing we take deep pride in," he said. Are you extra motivated because of the reputations they had as run-stoppers? "We're always going to be motivated. One thing we know as defensive linemen is that we've got to stop the run. That's one thing we take deep pride in."

Everyone, including Chapman, expects Dareus to be a key. ""He's great," Chapman said. "Strong, fast. And he knows he's strong and he's fast and he knows how to use it."

Chapman is impressed with some young defensive linemen. "Darrington Sentimore is a great," Chapman said. "The boy is fast and aggressive. Brandon Moore and Brandon Lewis, Anthony Orr. All pretty good players and they learn fast. I think they learn faster than we did. They pick it up before they go out on the field."

Joining Chapman at nose guard this spring is sophomore Kerry Murphy, who played in six games and made three tackles as a true freshman in 2009. Murphy was a teammate of Chapman at Hoover High School in Birmingham, but as Chapman was going to Alabama, Murphy was taking a couple of extra years at Hargrave Academy to get eligible for Bama.

"Kerry and I go way back," Chapman said. "He keeps me working and I keep him working.

"I'm proud of him because I know what he had to go through to get here."

Chapman is known as Alabama's strongest football player. He said he primarily works on repetitions in his bench press work, but can max out in "the high 500s." He said he is challenged by offensive linemen Anthony Steen, William Vlachos, and David Ross. In the squat, Chapman said he has "more motivation. Trent Richardson and Chance Warmack are the squuat kings around here. They both squat over 600." Chapman is in the "high 600s."

Chapman is in a good position to evaluate Bama's young offensive linemen. Any who have caught his eye?

"Chance and (D.J.) Fluker," he said. "Those two are aggressive. They like to learn. They come in after practice and try to learn more. I'll tell them if they mess something up and they learn fast and don't mess up again. And Steen comes off the ball. He's also good."

Chapman plays the nose tackle with technique that is different from Cody's. "Cody is bring and has those long arms he'd put on them," Chapman said. "I have to use my strength on those offensive linemen, and I have to grab them quick with my short arms."

One thing Chapman doesn't expect to change is third down situations. Cody wanted to be a "rabbit"--one of those players fast enough to stay on the field in pass rush downs. Chapman said, ing to be a rabbit (a player who stays on the field in pass rush downs)? Chapman said, "I'll be coming off the field on third downs, too."

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