Alabama’s Kouandjio Brothers Will Manage the Left Side of O-Line in 2013

Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama Crimson Tide

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

They have been together and lived under the same roof their entire life. When you saw one, you probably saw the other one.

And the college football world will see them lining up together starting tomorrow night.

Brothers, Arie and Cyrus Kouandjio take the field as starters on the left side of the Alabama Crimson Tide offensive line tomorrow night against Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome.

The move was made official this week, after Alabama head coach Nick Saban released his depth chart going into Saturday’s game. The reserve guard from last season, Arie, will solidify the left guard next to returning starter at left tackle, Cyrus, this season.

The game will mark the first time in four years that the brothers will start on the same field together. The last time was in high school in 2009, when Arie was the left tackle and Cyrus was the right tackle at Dematha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md.

But the thought of the two brothers starting together once seemed as if it would never happen in Tuscaloosa as Arie almost left the game altogether.

After redshirting his freshman season in 2010, Arie played in 2011 in a reserve role in mop-up duty against Penn St. and Arkansas, but was playing on injured knees, a condition that he let go unattended throughout his high school days and early collegiate career.  Arie had been told by numerous physicians that he needed multiple knee operations and that his playing days could be over altogether. Arie gave retirement a thought, but was persuaded by his parents to have the procedures done and to chase his dream of playing college football again.

While Arie was undergoing a long road of recovery after numerous knee surgeries, Cyrus was making a name for himself on the gridiron playing in 8-of-10 games his true freshman season as a backup to St. Louis Rams‘ Barrett Jones at left tackle. And last season, Arie, with limited mobility, watched on the sideline as Cyrus was the starting blindside left tackle for A.J. McCarron and the National Championship team. Arie could only watch and ask him himself when would his opportunity to start would come to fruition.

The departure of All-American/Tennessee Titans right guard Chance Warmack to the NFL paved a spot for Arie to start alongside Cyrus this season.

The 6-foot-5, 315-pound fourth-year junior has maintained his starting role throughout the summer and in fall camp this month, he has been experimented along with projected starting right tackle Austin Shepherd, both at right tackle and left guard by new offensive line coach, Mario Cristobal. Saban likes the physicalness that Arie can bring to that right tackle spot, but it is clear that Shepherd is a more complete tackle of the two.

Alabama’s rebuilt offensive line could play a pivotal role in this 2013 campaign to win the program’s third-straight national championship by keeping a clean pocket for McCarron and creating holes for a solid stable of running backs.

What seemed like a recovery that would never end, Arie says one of the things that got him through it was the relationship with his brother.

And they’ll get closer on and off the field this season.

 

Matt Virnig is a SEC Writer for RantSports.com, Follow him on Twitter @MatthewVirnig, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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