JOHN ZENOR,AP Sports Writer

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Terrence Cody wanted to expand his role and shrink his waistline.

The Alabama nose guard has lost some 15 pounds from his massive frame during the offseason in hopes of becoming more than a run-stopper and improving his NFL draft stock, which was already high enough to make him consider skipping his senior season.

"I just wanted to show the coaches that I'm not just a big man in the middle," Cody said Thursday after the Crimson Tide's first fall practice. "I can do a lot more than just stuff the run."

The 6-foot-5 and still weighty 355-pounder did that well enough to become a first-team Associated Press All-American straight out of junior college. His presence in the middle helped Alabama forge the nation's No. 2 run defense, becoming an instant sensation with a dominant performance in the opener against Clemson.

But when it came time for third down and passing situations, Cody typically headed to the bench. He was credited with only half a sack and one quarterback hurry last season.

He has since dropped some of the 365-plus pounds he carried during last season at coach Nick Saban's advice when he was exploring a move to the NFL.

"He felt that the best thing for me was to come back because of my weight," said Cody, who hit the scales at close to his current weight during spring practice. "I knew that from the get-go, that I needed to come back and get another year and go through the offseason program and get in better shape.

"It'll help me out in my stock in the draft, showing I can rush the passer and stay in all three downs."

He is still trying to drop another 10 pounds before the season opener Sept. 4 against Virginia Tech in Atlanta. Saban was lukewarm on Cody's progress going into fall camp.

"If we had a game today we wouldn't put him in on third down, but he's made some progress," Saban said. "He weighs less than he ever did last year, and he's probably in better shape than he ever was last year. Has he reached all the goals that we've kind of tried to establish for him? He's come close, and we want to continue to help him work through camp so he has an opportunity to maybe achieve those goals. "

While the weight loss isn't evident just from looking at Cody, he said being lighter helps ease some of the soreness in his knees and body that he felt after practices and games, and that he wasn't quite as tired after practice.

He fields the round of weight-related questions from reporters amiably. Cody hears about it plenty from the coaches.

"They bring it up more than you guys do," he said, "so I'm cool with it."

He said his biggest problem was doing most of his eating at night. Cody didn't suddenly load up on veggies to drop weight.

"I like certain vegetables, but broccoli and spinach and stuff, that's not me," he said.