Cody Making An Impact

Oct. 8, 2001

For a freshman playing college football, life can be a blur.

For instance, this time last year, Shaun Cody was playing for the Los Altos High Conquerors coached by Greg Gano.

Now, Cody is playing for the USC Trojans coached by Pete Carroll, the former head man for the NFL's Jets and Patriots.

This time last year, Cody was tearing up the gridiron as a defensive end, collecting 105 tackles and 22 sacks on his way to being named USA Today's National Prep Defensive Player of the Year.

Now, the 6-5, 265-pound Cody is fresh off his first collegiate start as a defensive tackle.

Maybe the storyline isn't quite how Cody pictured it, but it is clear he is having the time of his life.

'Being at USC has been great,' said Cody. 'It's everything I expected from college life. Everyone said I would have a great time here, but I didn't realize how much fun it would be'.

Call it youthful exuberance, but even though colleges all around the country coveted him for his play at end, he doesn't mind one bit playing the less glamorous tackle spot.

'Tackle is fun,' said Cody, who has nine tackles so far this season. 'My younger brother plays tackle and I used to dog him all the time, saying 'Oh, you just take up blocks'. But there is more to it than that. You've got to be mentally and physically strong. It's a battle.'

Cody did a good job taking up blocks in his first start last Saturday at Husky Stadium against Washington. He also notched five tackles, including one for a loss. Not bad for a guy who usually gives up around 40 pounds to opposing linemen. But don't be surprised at his success inside: Cody just may be part of that new breed of defensive tackle that relies on quickness rather than size to disrupt plays.

'There is definitely a speed advantage when I'm in there,' said Cody. 'It's a change-up to go from a guy like Ryan Nielsen, who is a big, strong guy who can bowl over most guards, to me. I have some 'quicks,' so you can really see the difference when I play. Opponents don't know what I'm about yet because I look so light.'

Cody sums up his style of play in one word.

'Relentless,' he said. 'That's what people say about me. I might not get you the first time or the second time, but I don't stop. I keep after it. I've always thought 'Why stop until the whistle is blown?. It's my mentality to go get the ball.'

Cody would like to be versatile as well as relentless, so one of his goals is to increase his size to about 275 pounds to be able to effectively play both the end and tackle spots.

'That would be a good weight to play both,' said Cody. 'Whatever is best for the team, that's where I'll play. Tackle is fun, end is fun.'

Tight end is also fun. That's another spot at which the athletic Cody starred in high school.

'I love to catch the ball,' said Cody, who had 50 receptions for 850 yards as a senior. 'Maybe in a couple of years, I'll ask Coach Chow, 'What's up?'.'

In the meantime, he is drawing rave reviews from his coaches regarding his work ethic and football instincts.

'Shaun has really applied himself,' said Carroll. 'He took full advantage to understand our terminology and the style of our coaching and is way ahead of where most true freshmen are at this time.'

Picking up the complexity of the defensive schemes has come pretty naturally for Cody, whose favorite subject in high school was math.

'Math comes easy to me,' he said. 'I'm not too much of a writer. I like solving problems. It's easy for me to pick up defensive schemes. We'll go over something early in the day and it stays with me later. I don't forget too many things on the field, so I think that's helped me a lot this year.'

One of the teams that recruited him hardest is coming up soon on the USC schedule and Cody is especially excited about it.

'I hate to admit it, but I grew up following Notre Dame,' said Cody. 'My dad loved them too, but he's changed. He is a 'Fight On' Trojan now.

'Going to South Bend is going to be wild. All the guys on the team talk about how great an experience it's going to be. I'm excited to get out there and play in front of all those people. They'll probably be saying stuff about me, but that's all right. I'll just play.'

If there was ever any doubt about his allegiance, it vanished when he emblazoned the letters 'SC' on his right bicep. Admittedly, there has been confusion over whether the letters stood for his school or his name.

'When I signed my letter of intent, I got the tattoo,' said Cody. 'I had thought about it for a while. I thought about the double meanings, how 'SC' can also mean Shaun Cody and all that. But the tattoo also looks like the school logo, so that kind of gives away the true meaning.'

With one start under his belt, Cody is confident he will continue to develop no matter what position he plays.

'It's been a huge first step for me,' he said. 'But Coach Carroll demands a lot out of you as a player. I think I've grown a lot as a person, both physically and mentally.'

Look for 'SC' to keep fighting on.

By Chris Huston
Assistant Sports Information Director

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