Big Hole To Fill On Tide Defense

Alabama football opponents who line up against the Crimson Tide defense in 2010 are going to see something missing. A lot of things, actually, as there will be mostly new starters in the Bama defensive lineup. But particularly noticeable will be the diminished size of the nose tackle.

For the past two years, the Alabama defensive front has included the incomparable Terrence Cody, 349 pounds (he always said) of All-America athleticism. Now Cody has moved on to the NFL and nose tackle will be a position where a new man will fill the gap.

The past two years, the back-up has been Josh Chapman (6-1, 310, junior. Chapman has had a distinction other than being Cody's understudy. Chapman is considered one of the strongest men on the Alabama football team.

Chapman got a couple of starts in 2008 when Cody was injured and has played in 26 games the past two years. He also played three games in 2007 before being injured and being granted a redshirt. He has totaled 31 tackles.

Chapman was spring winner of the Billy Neighbors Award as Bama's most improved defensive lineman.

One of Chapman's teammates at Hoover High School was Kerry Murphy. After a couple of years of prep school, Murphy joined the Tide last year as a freshman and the 6-4, 319-pounder has showed flashes of great potential. In addition to having the size and strength to man the middle, Murphy has a quick start and has the ability to disrupt an opposing backfield.

Murphy played in only six games in his first year as Bama, but showed in the spring that he could be a factor in 2010. He had two tackles and a sack in the A-Day Game.

Nick Gentry has been undersized, but the 6-1 junior had built himself up to 282 pounds by last spring. After redshirting in 2007, the former Prattville star has seen action in 14 games, primarily on special teams.

Alabama moves its defensive linemen around a great deal, so that ends are frequently at inside positions, and it's not out of the question that one of those big men listed as an end – redshirt freshman Brandon Moore (6-5, 310), for instance—might not be in the nose tackle mix.

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