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Weighing the Choices: 5-Star Tackle Cyrus Kouandjio Down to 11 Schools

Bryan KellySenior Analyst IJune 24, 2016

Weighing the Choices: 5-Star Tackle Cyrus Kouandjio Down to 11 Schools

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    Back in May I predicted which schools 5-star offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio would include in his next cut.

    I'm proud to say I wasn't too far off the mark with many of my predictions.

    The Hyattsville, MD tackle announced his final 11 schools earlier this week. He plans on evaluating these programs over the course of his senior year, narrowing this list to five by the end of the season, and then talking to all five officials between that time and National Signing Day.

    So who made the cut? What were their connections to him? And what are their chances of being successful? Click through and find out.

Alabama

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    Nick Saban and the Tide landed Cyrus' brother, Arie, in last year's class.Dave Martin/Getty Images

    Cyrus's brother, Arie, committed to Alabama in last year's class. Cyrus accompanied Arie on an unofficial visit just before Arie committed, and he's been back several times since to meet with coaches and get a feel for the campus.

    Alabama's coaches are no strangers to 5-stars, and while they've recruited well at almost every position, their offensive line hauls have been relatively unexciting in the past few years.

    The Tide grabbed touted 2011 center Ryan Kelly in July, so some momentum is there at the position, and it will be hard to turn down the national champions.

    I think their chances with him are the best of the group, but I also think that to call him a lock would be vastly overstating a presumed lead.

Georgia

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    Mark Richt and the Bulldogs are a team Cyrus wants to know more about.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    A surprise name on the list, I hadn't seen Georgia connected with him in any way beyond an offer (which Scout doesn't even list).

    To my knowledge, he hasn't visited and never mentioned any relationship with the coaches.

    However, Dawgs offensive line coach Stacy Searles and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo have formed a good team this season, landing three offensive line recruits total, including 4-star tackle Watts Dantzler, so far.

    This is a school that, I think, Cyrus just wants to know more about. And find out he will: Expect Georgia to really turn up the heat now that Bobo has heard his name called.

Iowa

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    Kirk Ferentz and the pre-professional Hawkeyes appeal to Kouandjio's goals as a recruit.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    I'm not surprised to see Iowa on here, as some people might be.

    Kouandjio visited Iowa early on in the recruiting process and must have enjoyed and remembered his visit.

    The Hawkeyes have been tearing up offensive line recruiting so far, landing two 4-star guards for their 2011 class in Austin Blythe and Jordan Walsh.

    Brian Bulaga's first-round NFL draft pick raised their profile among offensive linemen, and they might be just Kouandjio's speed. I like their chances as a darkhorse pick.

Maryland

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    Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen is hoping Kouandjio wants to stay close to home.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The Terrapins are the hometown program for Cyrus, one that he's enjoyed numerous visits to, and from which he's enjoyed a flow of attention.

    Kouandjio has never said distance is a good or bad thing, so their proximity isn't necessarily a strength or a weakness.

    While Maryland hasn't exactly been tearing up the recruiting trail, they haven't suffered, either, landing 13 recruits so far. They took Pete Desouza, another Dematha HS kid, in the 2009 class, so their roots to that school run strong.

    I'd say their chances are good, but not great.

Miami

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    Randy Shannon and the Hurricanes' interest in Kouandjio seems tempered by a sudden lack of need.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    I believe Kouandjio stopped off in Miami for a visit in July, while down South for a visit to Alabama, but I'm not sure.

    Bizarrely, this looks like a case where Kouandjio is more interested in a school than a school is interested in him. The UM coaches didn't visit his school during spring evaluation, and the addition of Seantrel Henderson to the 2010 class may have changed their tackle recruiting priorities...

    For a player of his caliber, you'd think Miami would bend the rules. I'm interested to see how Miami responds to being put on the list after having grabbed Kouandjio's virtual clone in the last class.

New Mexico

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    New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley is hoping to spin his roots in the D.C. area connect with Kouandjio.

    The "What?!?!" pick of this top 11, right?

    Kind of. Kouandjio's connection to New Mexico likely runs through Lobos head coach Mike Locksley, whose connections to D.C.-area recruits have been running strong since his days as Maryland's recruiting coordinator in the early 2000s.

    Locksley convinced Kouandjio to visit New Mexico for the Aztecs' spring game. Could he do the same for an official visit?

    The Lobos are the underdog of underdogs in this race, but one I'm not quite willing to bet against (more out of fear for my own safety than anything else).

Oklahoma

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    Bob Stoops hopes to match Texas' talent on the offensive line courtesy of Kouandjio.

    Tackle is a major need for Oklahoma in this class. While the buzz between the Sooners and Kouandjio hasn't been palpable so far, it's evident that OU is turning the heat up behind the scenes.

    Kouandjio appears to be reciprocating Oklahoma's interest, either out of curiosity, genuine interest, or both.

    The Sooners whiffed on fringe five-star tackle Brey Cook, who committed to Arkansas. They'll be redoubling their efforts with Kouandjio, who is by all accounts an improvement over Cook.

    Considering their pedigree with recruiting, I'd give Oklahoma a good chance of landing this 5-star simply because of the lack of proximity. But it will take a lot of work to be the last ones standing.

Pitt

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    The WannStache is probably hyping Pitt's great tradition of training offensive linemen.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Another local school to which Kouandjio paid a lot of early visits, Kouandjio was on hand for Pitt's Junior Day and took a handful more unofficials back in the spring.

    They're a solid developmental school along both offensive and defensive lines, with good distance from his home—not too far, not too close.

    Plus, their 2011 class is shaping up to be a dandy, with two great commits on offense from RB Jameel Poteat and ATH Terrell Chestnut.

    I'd give them an outside shot at making the next cut, but I'd be surprised if they got chosen for an official given their closeness to his home.

Tennessee

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    Derek Dooley is hoping Kouandjio will fill a critical need on the Vols' offensive line.NFL Photos/Getty Images /Getty Images

    Another school with major needs at every position on the offensive line, and another surprise pick was Tennessee.

    Like Georgia, Tennessee is a school with a lot of tradition that I'm sure Kouandjio is curious about, yet, to my knowledge, he has yet to pay a visit.

    The Vols will have their share of issues on the field this fall, but I've gotten the sense that Kouandjio is attracted to rebuilding projects over entrenched powers. I'll give them an outside shot.

Virginia

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    First-year UVa coach Mike London wasted no time in getting Kouandjio on campus.

    Talk about rebuilding projects, Virginia is starting from the ground up under Mike London.

    Yet the Cavaliers have recruited oustandingly under first-year coach London. And the Cavs coach even got Kouandjio to make a surprise appearance at a UVa junior day.

    One more thing the Cavs have going for them is that they've gained two verbals from Kouandjio's current Dematha teammates, OL Kolby Johnson and ATH Jordan Lomax. Grabbing teammates is a surefire way to make a recruit feel comfortable away from home.

    UVa is relatively local and will be firing everything they have at landing him. I'd give them a fighting chance.

USC

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    Kiffin and USC need elite recruits like Cyrus Kouandjio to counteract depth issues.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    After the Trojans lost Seantrel Henderson to transfer, their offensive line depth went from poor to critical. No surprise then that they are targeting his clone in this class.

    I'm unable to find the direct tweet, but Cyrus told recruitnik Justin Hopkins that USC was the school recruiting him hardest.

    The only way they'll survive the sanctions is by landing elite prospects like Kouandjio who are less likely to bust or not contribute.

    Evidently, the gray cloud hanging around the USC program isn't enough to turn him off. I think they'll survive this round if they keep up the intensity of their recruitment, and they're good candidates for an official visit because they're so far away.

    But man, if they actually land this kid...that's a performance of the year candidate in my eyes.

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