August 10, 2010

Five-star Kouandjio down to 11

Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio has been quiet regarding the recruiting process so far. However, the nation's No. 2 offensive tackle and the No. 7 overall player in the nation has narrowed down his list to 11 lucky programs. So who made the cut and are there any surprises?

Kouandjio, a 6-foot-7, 322-pounder for one of the nation's top high school programs, has long been rumored to be an Alabama lean since his older brother, Arie Kouandjio, signed with the Tide in February. However, Alabama has some competition from 10 other teams.

"This list is in no order and I don't have a favorite," said Kouandjio. "My final 11 are Pitt, Oklahoma, Miami, Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, Georgia, Iowa, USC, New Mexico and Alabama."

Kouandjio said getting down to 11 wasn't easy but he's happy this first step is done. He talked a little about what he likes about each program.

"At Pitt, they are recruiting me hard, I like the coaches and my teammate and friend Sam Collura is committed there. I took a visit and liked the atmosphere. With Oklahoma and Miami, I haven't been to either and don't know a lot about either program, but they interest me. Oklahoma produces good offensive linemen and I want to learn more about then and Miami, I've always like The U and want to learn more about them too. I hope to visit both of them.

"With Virginia, I visited and I like the coaches a lot and it's close to home. They also have a good offensive line. Tennessee recruited my brother really hard and they have a good fan base so I'm hoping to visit there as well. With Maryland, it's very close to home and I've been there a lot of times so there is a comfort level. The coaches are also really good.

"Georgia has always intrigued me and I've wanted to see and learn more about them. For some reason they've always stood out to me and I hope I can get there. Iowa has our running back from last year, Marcus Coker, and they produce offensive tackles and I liked it out there when I visited. It never hurts to know someone there already.

"Finally, with USC, New Mexico and Alabama it's different things. Arie loved USC when he visited out there and said it was tough to turn them down for Alabama. They also have a good offensive line coach and they are recruiting me really hard. New Mexico has coach Mike Locksley who has recruited this area so well when he was at Maryland, Florida and Illinois, there would be immediate playing time there and I've been there twice and liked it. And with Alabama, obviously my brother is there so that's a bonus, coach Saban and all the coaches are great, they have good offensive line coaching and I've been there twice and liked the area."

So what's next for Cyrus as far as narrowing down his list further and taking some official visits?

"I really don't know, I'm trying to figure that out now," he said. "I won't take any officials until after my season starts and I have to figure out if I want to see some of the places I haven't been to yet or see some of the schools I know to learn more. I'll probably take all my visits and decide late."

And what does Kouandjio say to those who think this narrowing-down process is moot because he's a done deal to 'Bama to play for his brother?

"To be honest, all of these schools look similar to me," he said. "They are all good programs, they all have good coaches and nice people and there isn't one of them that stands out. I am taking this process seriously like my brother did and am going to make the decision that's best for me. If I know where I wanted to go or was going to go already, I wouldn't be bothering with this and would have committed."

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