Editor’s note: Each day between now and Alabama's date with Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship, we will review the season for a key Crimson Tide player or coach and attempt to project what’s next for him. Today we’ll look at left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.
No. 71 Cyrus Kouandjio
Former All-SEC Freshman Team selection
Role in 2012: After playing a bit as a backup his freshman year, Kouandjio entered this season as the clear-cut starter at left tackle.
The good: The sophomore didn't disappoint after returning from a knee injury that cut short his freshman campaign in 2011. The former No. 1 offensive tackle prospect in the country slid in and ably protected quarterback AJ McCarron's blind side. While he did well in pass protection, his biggest strength was run-blocking. Alabama had the most success rushing the football to his side of the line, pulling left guard Chance Warmack while leaving Kouandjio to seal the edge. The tandem worked to near perfection as UA ran for more than 220 yards per game.
The bad: Whether it was a result of inexperience or a case of simply needing to knock the rust off after the injury, consistency was hard to come by early in the season for Kouandjio. He committed a few too many penalties and struggled in pass protection at times, mostly as a result of minor errors in technique.
Crystal ball: The same traits that had college scouts salivating about Kouandjio two years ago are starting to draw the attention of pro scouts. His size (311 pounds) and length (6-foot-6) are perfect for an offensive tackle at the next level. His production has increased with experience and he has shown he can hold his own against some of the best defensive linemen in the country while playing in the SEC. Three UA offensive linemen will be drafted this April and, had it not been for Kouandjio's underclassman status, he would be a fourth. While he awaits the promise of an NFL future, Alabama gets a bookend tackle to build around next season as the Crimson Tide replace three-fifths of the starting offensive line.