HYATTSVILLE, Md. -- Under coach Nick Saban, Alabama has stepped up its national recruiting effort considerably. The Tide's efforts paid off this year when Alabama landed three-star offensive guard prospect Arie Kouandjio of Hyattsville, Md. While Kouandjio, a senior, was a very big signing -- literally, he's 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds -- his younger brother could be an even bigger get. At 6-7 and 315 pounds, junior Cyrus Kouandjio is hearing from some of the nation's best programs.
"I have around, like, 25 offers right now. The latest couple to offer are Notre Dame and New Mexico. I am talking a lot with Auburn and Virginia Tech right now and I think they could be close to offering. Some of the schools that have already offered are Alabama, FSU, Tennessee, USC, LSU, Cal, Maryland, Pitt, West Virginia, Boston College, Iowa, among others. I don't have any top groups or anything right now. I plan to travel around this summer and see some schools. I have been to Virginia, Maryland and Pitt already. I'm going to New Mexico in a few weeks for their spring game."
With his older brother already headed for Tuscaloosa, Cyrus spoke about what his brother likes about Alabama and if a family reunion could be in the future.
"I learned a lot from my brother's recruiting," said Cyrus. "Alabama definitely has my early attention. How could they not? I love coach Sal [Sunseri, assistant head coach/linebackers]. I really feel like I can trust him. I know he'll take care of me. And Coach Saban is really down-to-earth. They have been staying in contact pretty consistently. My brother believes that Coach [Joe] Pendry is the best offensive line coach in the country. That's a pretty big compliment right there."
Said Arie of his brother's recruiting process: "Alabama is great; I think the coaches there are really good, lots of fan support, and everything is all about Alabama football. Me and Cyrus don't really talk about football in the house. I'm real proud of him; he's got a lot of attention and it's really great to see that happen for my younger brother. He's very athletic, which is why coaches really like him. I can still take him on one-v.-ones, though. My advice for him would be to look around and listen, keep an open mind. But definitely, Roll Tide."
Although Alabama would appear to have an inside track, Cyrus maintains he will keep an open mind. He did, however, acknowledge that the Tide are most certainly in the early mix.
The recruiting process can be fun, but exhausting -- prospects are constantly getting pulled from class, answering calls from coaches and the media, and trying to balance school and practice. Cyrus said he is taking it all in stride right now and is in no rush to make a decision early.
"I'm going to take my time; this is just too big of a decision to rush," he said. "I think of it as a 10-year plan: What will this prepare me for 10 years from now? This is a bigger decision than just about football. Number one, I'm looking at the people in the area; four years is a long time. I want to feel comfortable. Number two, the coaching staff will be a very important part of my decision. Number three is education -- gotta have a great education."
Cyrus is not only a very big player, but he also has some great speed and footwork for a player his size. Last year he played right tackle; Arie played left tackle.
"Coaches tell me I play with a mean streak in me," Cyrus said. "I love to run block, I love to pancake guys. Pass block is easier and gives me kind of a break, but the pancake is worth it. Last year I played right tackle and Arie was left, so I'm likely to take the left spot now that he's gone. However, we have a freshman quarterback that is competing; he's left-handed. If he starts, I'll stay at right tackle this year."
Justin J. Hopkins writes for the ESPN affiliate and Alabama fan site CrimsonConfidential.com.