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In his fourth year with the Tennessee Titans, Antwan Odom says his playing experiences at Alabama have helped him in his NFL career. Odom is the starting right defensive end for the Titans (1-1), who play the New Orleans Saints (0-2) on Monday night.
Titans’ Odom still bleeds crimson
Former Tide star likes turnaround under Saban
By Michael Wetzel
NASHVILLE — You can’t blame Antwan Odom for dressing in blue and silver nowadays. They’re the colors of his employer, the Tennessee Titans. But he still has a fondness for crimson and white, the colors he wore as a member of the Alabama football program.
It’s been nearly four years since the 6-foot-5, 274-pound right defensive end for the Titans finished playing football in Tuscaloosa, but he said his years there helped him prepare for the NFL.
“The coaching situation at Alabama really showed me I could play for anybody,” Odom said after Sunday’s Titans 22-20 loss to the defending Super Bowl Champions Indianapolis Colts.
Former Tide coach Mike DuBose recruited the prep All-American from Alma Bryant High in Bayou La Batre. But before Odom was finished, he took orders from now former Alabama coaches Dennis Franchione, Mike Price and Mike Shula.
Odom, 25, said he never thought about leaving Alabama after DuBose was dismissed.
“I had always wanted to play at Alabama, so it really didn’t matter who was the coach. I never thought of leaving there,” he said.
Who was his favorite coach at Alabama?
“Coach Price would have been if he had been able to stay,” he said, adding he is encouraged by the direction the Tide program is headed.
“I think (Nick) Saban is doing a great job,” said Odom, who made the All-SEC first team as a junior. “The school’s program has a rich history and he’s got it back on track.”
Odom said he talks with current Tide defender Wallace Gilberry often about the happenings on campus. Both Odom and Gilberry are from Southwest Alabama.
“He’s told me Saban was a beast, rough and strict,” Odom said.
“I think I would have liked to play for Saban. Wallace told me he is a no-nonsense guy who doesn’t take any crap.”
Odom is glad to be back on the field again after missing 12 games last year with a knee injury. He said he still considers an injury in 2001 to his left shoulder at Alabama his
toughest ailment to come back from.
“I missed five months healing that shoulder and then last year, missed most of the season with my knee,” he said. “It’s tough to sit there, watch the team and not be able to do anything about it. But it seems every time I get an injury like that, it motivates me to work harder to get back out there.”
Odom played in 39 games for the Tide. His 21 sacks there ranks fifth on the school’s all-time list.
He was the Titans’ third pick of the second round in the 2004 draft, 57th overall.
Titans’ left defensive end and former all-pro Kyle Vanden Bosch said he’s thrilled to have Odom back in the lineup.
“Antwan worked hard to come back from that knee,” said Vanden Bosch, a seven-year pro who played college ball at Nebraska. “He’s a force out there. He’s got those long arms and is tough to deal with.
“Most people think of Antwan as a pass-rusher, but we see him all the time. He might be better at stopping the run.”
In two games as a starter this season, Odom has three solo tackles. He recorded a sack against Jacksonville in the Titans’ 13-10 opening-season victory.
Odom is quick to admit the speed, contact and number of true athletes in the pros dwarfs that at the college level, even at a program like Alabama.
“I need to work on my pass rushing,” he said. “The main thing is to stay out there and get after them.
“There are athletes at all positions who can burn and who can hit. And the veterans, they’ve got tricks they use that some players have never seen. But at Alabama, I learned to play hard every down and keep playing until the game is over. Don’t ever give up. That has helped me up here.”
Antwan Odom at a glance
Born Sept. 24, 1981, in Mobile, attended Alma Bryant High in Bayou La Batre.
Former All-SEC defensive end for Alabama, where he played for four coaches in five years.
Drafted in second round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans.
Wears No. 98 for the Titans, the same number he wore at Alabama.
Has started 20 of 38 games in his three-plus seasons.
Has recorded 5.5 sacks in Titans career.
Knee injury limited his 2006 season to four games played.
During the offseason, Odom lives in Jasper with his wife and three children.
Enjoys NASCAR, WWE wrestling, the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Lakers.
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