Dominance in college football starts with the men in the trenches. A defensive lineman’s primary task is to wreak havoc in the backfield. Defensive linemen must excel at two things, filling in gaps and generating pressure.
On offense, it’s the receiver’s job to make plays and take pressure off the quarterback. On defense, it’s the defensive line’s job to plug up gaps, create pressure and help the linebackers and secondary.
Alabama has had the luxury of recruiting defensive linemen that are smart, yet disruptive. Here is a list of the best defensive linemen in Alabama history.
Top 10 Defensive Linemen
10. Jesse Williams (2011-12)
- Pictures of Williams benching 600 pounds got him notice, but it was his style of play that the fans fell in love with.
- Williams was a prominent nose tackle under Saban.
- His finest performance came in 2012.
- Williams collected 37 tackles, one sack, two pass breakups, four quarterback hurries and a blocked field goal in 2012.
- He has 61 tackles (6.5 tackles for loss), 1.5 sacks, four quarterback hurries, two pass breakups and a blocked field goal for his career.
- Aside from playing nose tackle, Williams served as a blocker on the offense line in certain situations.
- He was an SEC champion in 2012.
- Williams was a two-time national champion (2011 and 2012 seasons).
- The Seattle Seahawks selected Williams with the 137th pick (fifth round) in the 2013 NFL Draft.
- He won an NFC title with Seattle in 2013.
- Williams was a Super Bowl Champion (Super Bowl XLVIII—2012 season).
- He became the first native Australian to win a Super Bowl ring.
9. Wallace Gilberry (2003-06)
- Under Mike Shula and Nick Saban, Gilberry was a force on the defensive line for Alabama.
- As a redshirt freshman (2004), Gilberry led the team in tackles behind the line of scrimmage (13). He collected 6.5 sacks and finished the season with 28 tackles.
- His best season came in 2006.
- Gilberry had 10.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hurries and 43 total tackles in 2006.
- He finished his career with 188 tackles (60.5 tackles for loss), 21.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 38 quarterback hurries.
- Gilberry was a first team selection to the All-SEC Coaches’ Football Team in 2007.
- He made four bowl appearances with Alabama.
- Gilberry went into the National Football League undrafted, but has played seven seasons in the league with Kansas City and Cincinnati.
- He has 105 tackles, 28.0 sacks and six forced fumbles in his career with Kansas City and Cincinnati.
8. Willie Wyatt (1986-89)
- Under Ray Perkins and Bill Curry, Wyatt was an anchor on Alabama’s defense.
- He made four bowl appearances with Alabama.
- Wyatt helped the Tide win a share of the SEC title in 1989.
- He didn’t play much in the NFL, but Wyatt left his mark on Arena Football.
- Wyatt played nine seasons (1990-01) in the AFL, including six seasons (1995-01) with the Tampa Bay Storm.
- He recorded 36 tackles, 11.0 sacks, seven pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in his career.
- Wyatt was a two-time First team All-Arena (1997, 1998)
- He was a two-time Second team All-Arena (1995, 1999)
7. Larry Roberts (1982-85)
- Roberts made three bowl appearances with Alabama, but made a bigger impact in the NFL.
- He was selected in the second round (39th pick) of the 1986 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
- Roberts spent eight seasons (1986-93) in the NFL and made 12 playoff appearances with the 49ers.
- He amassed 28.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception in his career.
- Roberts was a two-time Super Bowl Champion (Super Bowl XXIII—1988, Super Bowl XXIV—1989).
6. Marcell Dareus (2008-10)
- Dareus was the first big time pass rusher for Saban at Alabama.
- He had his most prolific season in 2009.
- Dareus had 33 tackles (9.0 tackles for loss), 6.5 sacks, one interception, two pass breakups and seven quarterback hurries in 2009.
- He collected 71 tackles (20.0 tackles for loss), 11 sacks, one interception, six pass breakups and 20 quarterback hurries in his career.
- Dareus is mostly known for his performance in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game against Texas.
- He knocked out Longhorns’ quarterback Colt McCoy and returned a 28-yard interception off Garrett Gilbert for a touchdown.
- Dareus was named Defensive MVP for his performance in the title game
- He won an SEC title with Alabama in 2009.
- Dareus won a national title with the Tide (2009 season).
- He was named First-team All-SEC in 2010.
- The Buffalo Bills selected Dareus with the third pick (first round) in the 2011 NFL Draft.
- He has 153 tackles, 18.5 sacks and a forced fumble with Buffalo so far.
- Dareus went to the Pro Bowl in 2013.
5. Terrence Cody (2008-09)
- Though he was a JUCO transfer, Cody became an impact player at Alabama.
- Despite being 400 pounds, he displayed exceptional movement at nose tackle.
- Cody totaled 51 tackles (10.5 tackles for loss), 0.5 sacks, five quarterback hurries, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and two blocked field goals in his career.
- He is most remembered for saving Alabama’s undefeated season in 2009.
- Against Tennessee, Cody blocked two Daniel Lincoln field goals, including a 44-yard attempt late in the game. Alabama won 12-10.
- He was a two-time AP All-SEC First Team (2008, 2009)
- Cody was a two-time AP All-American (2008, 2009)
- He was a Sports Illustrated All-American in 2008 and a Nagurski Award finalist in 2009.
- Cody was an SEC champion in 2009 and a national champion with Alabama in the 2009 season.
- He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens as the 57th pick (second round) of the 2010 NFL Draft.
- Cody has totaled 87 tackles in his career.
- He achieved an AFC title in 2012 and a Super Bowl Championship in the 2012 season.
4. Curtis Jarvis (1983-86)
- Like Roberts, Jarvis played well at Alabama, but had a better impact in the NFL.
- He appeared in three bowl games with the Crimson Tide.
- Robert was selected in the seventh round (169th pick) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1987 NFL Draft.
- In four seasons (1987-90), Jarvis compiled 8.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries.
3. Jon Hand (1982-85)
- Under Paul Bryant and Ray Perkins, Hand was a pivotal factor for Alabama’s defense in the early 80s.
- Hand’s best season was in 1985.
- He had 77 tackles (7.0 tackles for loss), one sack, four pass breakups, one interception, three forced fumbles and a blocked field goal in 1985.
- He was named to the Sporting News College Football All-American Team in 1985.
- Hand made three bowl appearances with Alabama.
- He was drafted in the first round (fourth pick) of the 1986 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts.
- In nine seasons (1989-94), Hand had 537 tackles, 35.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and seven fumble recoveries.
- He led the team in sacks in 1988 (5.0), 1989 (10.0) and 1991 (5.0).
- Hand finished seventh in the AFC with 10 sacks in 1989.
2. Bob Baumhower (1973-76)
- Baumhower developed into a potent defensive lineman in the latter years of Paul Bryant.
- He was a two-time Second team All-American.
- Baumhower was a three-time SEC Champion (1973-75)
- He won a national title with Alabama in 1973.
- Baumhower was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.
- The Miami Dolphins drafted him with the 40th pick (second round) in the 1977 NFL Draft.
- In nine seasons (1977-86), Baumhower recorded 14.5 sacks, one interception, 16 fumble recoveries and two touchdowns.
- He was a 5x Pro Bowler and made First-team All-Pro once.
- Baumhower appeared in two Super Bowls (Super Bowl XVII—1982 season, Super Bowl XIX—1984 season)
- He was inducted into the Miami Dolphins Honor Roll in 2008.
- Baumhower is the owner of Aloha Hospitality. The company has a series of eight restaurants located in the state of Alabama specializing in buffalo wings.
1. John Copeland & Eric Curry (1989-92)
- Defensive combinations don’t come better than Copeland and Curry for Alabama in the late 80s to early 90s.
- Under Bill Curry and Gene Stallings, Copeland and Curry terrorized opposing offenses.
- They were known as the “Bookends” in their abilities to meet in the backfield together.
- Copeland and Curry guided Alabama to a No. 1 ranked defense in 1992.
- Both players achieved an SEC title in 1992, a national title in the ’92 season and an All-American status in 1992.
- Copeland and Curry were both drafted in the first round of the 1993 NFL Draft.
- The Cincinnati Bengals selected Copeland with the fifth pick and Tampa Bay chose Curry with the sixth pick.
- In eight seasons (1993-00), Copeland had 276 tackles, 24.0 sacks, nine forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and three interceptions with the Bengals.
- Curry spent seven seasons in the NFL. He recorded 81 tackles, 12.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries with Tampa Bay and Jacksonville.
Honorable Mentions: Josh Chapman (2007-11)
- Under Nick Saban, Chapman blossomed at nose tackle.
- He played behind Terrence Cody in 2008 and 2009.
- Chapman’s best season was in 2010.
- In 2010, he recorded 31 tackles and a sack.
- Chapman totaled 86 tackles and 2.5 sacks for his career.
- He was an SEC champion in 2009.
- Chapman was a two-time national champion (2009 and 2011 seasons).
- He was selected in the fifth round (136th pick) of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts.
- Chapman has 20 tackles and a pass breakup so far with the Colts.