From now until kickoff in Arlington, Texas, we'll be counting down from 100 to 1 until Alabama and Michigan get the season started. Today, we move to No. 71 and what it means to UA football.
A couple of days ago, the Countdown looked at the career of Barrett Jones. It's easy to marvel at the two-time All-American and Outland Trophy winner's willingness to try his hand starting at yet another position on the offensive line. Today, we'll turn our attention to the man responsible for the reshuffling, No. 71 on the University of Alabama roster, Cyrus Kouandjio.
Kouandjio came to Alabama in one of the stranger national signing day scenarios. The Maryland native stunned many by choosing Auburn early on Feb. 2, 2011. On the ESPN airwaves, he chose the rival Tigers over Alabama, where his brother was an underclassman on the football team. A change of heart followed for the consensus No. 1 offensive lineman in the country, though. After a firestorm of media coverage and speculation, Kouandjio took his time to think about his options and chose to come to Tuscaloosa, quietly faxing in his letter of intent.
In his freshman season at the Capstone, Kouandjio showed why his flip to Alabama was such a big deal. The 6-foot-6, 311-pound tackle played in the first eight games before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Tennessee. Through the first eight games, Alabama averaged roughly 230 yards rushing per contest. Fans got a taste of his talent protecting the quarterback's blind side and his ability to mow down defenders in the running game. He showed enough to earn himself a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team.
Kouandjio looked to be back to form this spring, competing during practice and in the annual scrimmage. He will play left tackle, sliding Jones inside to center. Anthony Steen, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack figure to make up the rest of the front five when Alabama opens the season against Michigan on Sept. 1.