For the past two seasons, the nose tackle position at Alabama has been manned most notably by Terrence Cody, who earned All-America each of his two seasons with the Tide. The supersized Cody has now moved on to the NFL.
Although he may seem like a newcomer, Josh Chapman earned plenty of playing time last year, in part because Cody was so large that he was a one- or two-play man in most defensive series. Although Chapman was never as big as Cody (who almost certainly was over 350 most of his career), it has helped Chapman that he has dropped a few pounds to the 305 range.
“A couple weeks ago I was a little bit high, but I am back where I should be and no I’ve got the mindset,” Chapman said. “I can play at 305 and now I can get down to that weight.
“I’m anxious to show that I can do it and show that I can contribute to the team.”
He expects to show it on passing downs, the downs when Cody was ordinarily yanked from the game last year.
Chapman said, “I feel that now that I’m better at certain things such as pass rushing, I feel that I can pass rush better. That comes from getting my weight down. When my weight was high, I couldn’t go that long – couldn’t sustain that long. Now I feel like I can pass rush.”
Chapman is listed as 6-1, 310.
Chapman, a junior, has been a contributor the past few years. The junior from Hoover was particularly effective against pass-happy Texas in the BCS National Championship Game in January. Chapman had three tackles in the Crimson Tide’s 37-21 win to complete a 14-0 season.
Chapman played ine every Alabama game and was in on 17 tackles, including one sack.
Perhaps the strongest man on the team, Chapman has played in 30 games with two starts.
Chapman is not the only newcomer to the Alabama defense who has experience.
“We are pretty anxious,” Chapman said. “We lost a lot of starters from last year, but also still have guys who contributed to that team last year and they all kind of grew from what they did last year looking to what they did. I feel that we are probably in great position.”
This week Alabama expects to start Chapman at nose tackle when the Crimson Tide opens the 2010 season. Bama will host San Jose State at 6 p.m. CDT in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The only television is pay-per-view.
Chapman is glad to be in game week.
Yeah, we’ve been banging on each other for a long time,” he said. “When you have a game this week, it changes. It was more of what they do, but when it comes down to it, it’s going to matter what we do on the field.”
That means that it doesn’t matter that San Jose State is not a big name opponent. “That doesn’t change anything,” Chapman said. “They’re an opponent just like everybody else.”
While San Jose State is expected to be one of the nation’s weakest teams, Alabama is number one in almost every pre-season poll.
Chapman said, “Being number one, that’s good, but just as coach says, we already know that and being number one, the ranking really doesn’t mean one thing. We are going out there and play every game one at a time. That ranking, that’s one thing we really don’t listen to or look at.”
Alabama’s defense starts anew this year, but it starts without having allowed a 100-yard rushing game by an individual since BenJarvus Green of Ole Miss ran for 131 in 2007.
Chapman said, “Yes, the one thing about Alabama defense, we are going to stop the run. With me being the nose guard, that’s one thing I have to take on my shoulders is stopping the run. If you’re getting the ball run on you, that means the nose guard is not doing his job.”
Chapman has a familiar back-up this year. He’s competing with former Hoover High School teammate Kerry Murphy.
Chapman said, “Playing football, you got to have somebody to push you. He pushes me and I push him.
“He’s a great player.”
Chapman said away from the field that he and Murphy spend time together, playing cards and listening to music.