Alabama Football: Cyrus Kouandjio and the 5 Most Important Incoming Freshman
With his brother Arie already attending the University of Alabama, Saban and the Tide seemed a shoe-in for the 5-star Under Armour All-American. Instead, he chose Auburn University on National Signing Day, hurting the feelings of many Crimson Tide faithful.
But something happened. Kouandjio announced to the nation he would not be signing with Gene Chizik and took a brief hiatus from the spotlight.
Days later, a source close to the Kouandjio family announced on Twitter that he would be attending the University of Alabama.
With the unfortunate death of the left tackle Aaron Douglas, Cyrus Kouandjio looks to step in immediately and begin playing for the Crimson Tide during his freshman season.
Coming in at a massive 6'7", 322 pounds, Kouandjio looks to be a backbone for the offensive line during his stay in Tuscaloosa. But a question needs to be answered: Can he come in and pick up Jim McElwain’s offense quick enough to make an impact?
Fellow offensive lineman D.J. Fluker didn’t obtain much playing time his freshman year due to his inability to pick up the NFL pro-style offense.
If this does happen, expect for Kouandjio to rear his head mid-season to help the new Tide quarterback win an SEC Championship.
Along with the development of Kouandjio, this list will present the 5 most important freshman entering the Alabama Football program this fall.
Jeoffery Pagan: Defensive End
The 4-star recruit from Asheville, North Carolina looks to be a rock on the defensive line over the coming years. Coming in at 6'4", 272 pounds, Pagan is player who does not lack size and speed running a 4.63-40 yard dash.
Rivals.com's Barry Every had this to say on Pagan’s mechanics: “Pagan needs to be more consistent using his hands to keep offensive linemen off his body while working on shedding blocks quicker.”
He won’t play right away. The depth chart is jam-packed with talent thanks to two-year letter Damion Square and Ed Stinson.
Look for Pagan to gain muscle weight in the offseason with strength coach Scott Cochran and contribute to the Crimson Tide defense in 2012.
Marvin Shinn: Wide Reciever
With the departure of former Tide All-American Julio Jones, Coach Nick Saban needed to find more talent on the offensive side of the football.
He once again went to the coast of Alabama and found Prichard, Alabama native Marvin Shinn out of Vigor High School.
No, the former Under Armour All-American does not have the best speed in the world running a 4.5 40 time, but according to Rivals.com his build and mechanics remind you of Minnesota Vikings WR Sidney Rice.
The former Vigor basketball player looks to come in and contribute to a receiving corps that lacks size and speed to stretch the field. With the acquisition of him and Ohio State transfer Duron Carter, look for Shinn to break into a starting role in 2013.
Brent Calloway: Linebacker
As Cyrus Kouandjio, the Russellville, Alabama talent had quite a story on National Signing Day.
Calloway originally committed to Nick Saban, but flip-flopped to Gene Chizik and Auburn University to play football. He then had a change of heart at the last minute, as he saw his name in crimson flame.
Once his commitment switched back to the Crimson Tide, news organizations around the state immediately started to hype a scandal, and it seemed as if Calloway’s father was going to be right in the middle of it.
Before we knew it, a smaller, similar version of the Cam Newton drama was about to start up again.
The University of Alabama then investigated whether to see if impermissible benefits were used to sign Calloway. As the investigation finished and everything checked out, Coach Saban had himself a brand new outside linebacker similar to the size of Mark Barron.
Already coming in with a great muscular build at 6'1", 210 pounds, look for the Son of a Preacher Man to get on the field his first year using his exceptional speed on special teams.
Demetrius Hart: Running Back
With the success Mark Ingram had at the University of Alabama, young running backs around the nation are beginning to take notice.
Demetrius Hart (“Dee” as we call him on campus) had an impressive high school campaign being named the 19th best prospect in the country by Rivals.com. With Hart finishing high school early last December, he decided to enroll at the university to get a head start learning Jim McElwain's offensive system.
During the 2011 A-Day game in April, Hart showed the Crimson Tide faithful his explosiveness and speed as he embarrassed a few teammates on the field, showing his dime-stopping ability.
With Hart’s shifty moves and explosive 4.43 speed, Coach Nick Saban would be a fool not to get him some carries immediately to move the football down the field. In 2011, look for Hart to complement the presence of Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy in several offensive packages.
As for the future, the durability of Hart will not in question as he is a running back who will be able to carry the football 20 to 25 times a game.
Trey Depriest: Linebacker
With the Buckeye football program facing more NCAA allegations and the resignation of their coach, the decision Trey Depriest made choosing Alabama over Ohio State may be the right one after all.
The talented Ohio native was the No. 1 MLB by Scout and the No. 7 OLB by Rivals. In high school, Depriest played quarterback, running back, punter and kicker. His athletic skills will allow him to contain plays to the outside and drop back into complex zone coverages for Nick Saban’s defense.
Only knock on Depriest is that his mechanics and tackling form need tweaking. Tackling low on defense and obtaining leverage against a runner is a must at the SEC level where physicality rules.
The 6'1", 225 pound Depriest may not see the field during the 2011 campaign thanks to a lot of depth at the linebacker position featuring Nico Johnson and C.J. Mosley, but look for him to use his speed and strength on special teams this fall.