Cyrus Kouandjio's long road

Cyrus Kouandjio, right, is a massive protector for Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron. AP Photo/Butch Dill

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Cyrus Kouandjio hunched over in his seat, an enormous, well-built man struggling to connect the dots of his past. Where does my strength come from? he asked, his wide smile vanishing behind the dust of old memories as he sorted through his family's struggle to survive.

Unlike most 6-foot-6, 310-pound offensive linemen, Cyrus is unburdened by a heavy gut or cumbersome muscle. His feet are nimble -- something he developed kicking around a soccer ball as a child. But the most impressive thing about him is his raw power. This season he's unveiled a new move -- "The Slap," as it's been called -- where he simply takes his right hand and whacks rushing defenders to the ground like wobbly tackling dummies.

A junior left tackle at the University of Alabama, Kouandjio is still a baby to the game. He seems mostly unaware of his sizable presence, even as his grip swallows yours in a polite handshake.

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