Mount Cody climbs to Alabama celebrity status

Published 3:20 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2008

TUSCALOOSA – Terrence Cody is used to being the big man on campus, but not like this.

No. 11 Alabama’s noseguard behemoth has become an instant celebrity around campus because of both his physical dimensions — 6-foot-5, 360 pounds — and his sizable impact on the Crimson Tide’s defensive line.

He even has a cool nickname: Mount Cody. Strangers shake his hand and say, “Good game, Mount Cody.” His teammates first marveled at his size and then his agility and athleticism, including watching him dunk a basketball.

“Everybody knows me on campus,” the junior college transfer said. “It’s been like that since I got on campus.”

He caught opposing coaches’ and players’ attention when he spearheaded a dominant run-stuffing performance against Clemson in the opener. The Tigers had zero yards rushing.

When you run into Cody, Tide tailback Glen Coffee said, “You just get stopped.”

Cody even has two groups devoted to him on, “Mount Cody” and “Terrence Cody is a Manchild” with a combined 90 members. He developed that following without being permitted by coach Nick Saban to talk to the media before this week since arriving at Alabama.

He only seemed like an overnight sensation. Cody first had to overcome ballooning weight, high school grades and his supersized physique as a youngster. Cody was too big to play youth football and only played two seasons of high school ball because of grades, even missing his senior season.

Academics forced him to go the JUCO route at Gulf Coast Community College in Mississippi. He had 31 tackles and 3.5 sacks and helped the team go unbeaten last season, drawing attention from major college recruiters.

“He certainly had the size and the initial quickness,” Saban said. “We knew what his problem was in terms of conditioning. That was our big issue.”

Cody arrived on his recruiting visit to Alabama at a robust 420 pounds. He endured early-morning workouts with Gulf Coast assistant Stevon Moore, who played for Saban with the Cleveland Browns, during the offseason. The goal was to lose 3 pounds a week through extra exercise and avoiding late-night eating binges.

Then were was the daily fear that the work wouldn’t bear fruit.

“I was like, I hope all this pays off because waking up early is hell,” Cody said.

Tide safety Rashad Johnson’s first impression was awe at his size. Cody stopped by his house on his recruiting visit. “It was just crazy to see a guy that big and to know that he’s going to be a part of our team,” Johnson said.

A more encouraging sight was Cody finishing all 26 of his 110-yard runs on the first day of summer conditioning, while many of his smaller teammates bowed out early.

“There were definitely guys that didn’t finish and you look over and the biggest guy on the team was finishing,” Johnson said. “He was determined he was going to make all 26 of them.

“That definitely showed the heart and the hard work that he has and the determination.”

It is also helping Cody have the stamina to play more snaps each game, rotating with Josh Chapman.

He has nine tackles, including two for losses. A bigger impact that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet is the fact that he is drawing nearly constant double-teams from opposing offenses, freeing up teammates to make plays. Players like linebacker Rolando McClain were the beneficiaries of all that attention against Tulane.

“Rolando had like 15 tackles, so I did my job,” Cody said.

Despite all the attention he has received, Cody still has a hard time believing he’s in this position starting for a ranked Southeastern Conference team.

“I actually pinch myself, like man, is this really true?” he said. “Is this happening? I ended up at a great school. I feel really blessed.”