TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Rubbing his bloodshot eyes, Terrence Cody didn’t have to say much about his energy level early Thursday afternoon.
The hulking nose guard had just completed the first official practice of the season and he was visibly gassed after spending about two hours in the humid early-August air.
Cody said he was feeling much better than he did following practices last season — his first under coach Nick Saban.
“It’s an adjustment because I’m not as heavy,” he said. “But I feel a lot better. My knees feel a lot better and my body feels a lot better than I did last year.”
Since arriving in Tuscaloosa, Cody’s weight has been the subject of plenty attention from coaches and the media, more from the former than the later, he said with a laugh.
Cody said his weight is at about 355 now after playing last season in the 367-pound-range.
By the time Alabama plays Virginia Tech on Sept. 5 in the Georgia Dome, Cody plans to be down to 345. The goal is to be in the right shape so he can stay in the game in third-down situations that meant a jog to the bench last season.
Saban said Cody wasn’t all the way there on Wednesday, but his physical transformation is evident.
“It’s a gut-check,” Cody said. “I’ve got to show them I’m not tired and can keep going.”
Coming out of Gulf Coast Junior College, Cody weighed upwards of 400 pounds. Mobility wasn’t his strength and rushing the quarterback wasn’t much of an option. Pound by pound, Cody trimmed down.
He could have been a high-round draft pick if he left school following the 2008 season, but the Fort Myers, Fla., native chose to stick around to add an extra dimension to his game. He recorded only half of a sack as a junior but opposing quarterbacks will be in Cody’s crosshairs this fall.
The big man displayed his improved speed in April’s A-Day game when he ran down running back Terry Grant from behind on a screen pass. But he was still disappointed when the coaches took him out of the scrimmage on obvious passing situations.
Losing the weight meant changing his eating habits. Pizza is eaten only in moderation now as fruits and vegetables dominate his diet.
“I don’t eat during the day. I eat at night,” said Cody who has been working out with fellow defensive lineman Josh Chapman. “That’s my biggest enemy.”
Cody’s shrinking body hasn’t changed what he calls a “super star status” around the Alabama campus. Signing autographs and posing for pictures became a daily routine last season that ended with several all-American honors.
At this point, he can easily spot a fan eager to meet the player known as “Mount Cody.”
“I can’t hide myself,” Cody said with his signature extra-large smile. “There is no way I can hide myself. I just stick out.”
By April, the rising star hopes NFL teams recognize his potential and reward the progress he’s made from an overweight, out of shape but effective lineman into a lean(er) and versatile anchor of a professional defensive line.