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Thursday, July 18, 2013
Crimson Countdown: Arie Kouandjio

By Alex Scarborough

During the summer, TideNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Alabama roster -- excluding the Tide's 2013 recruiting class -- in our Crimson Countdown series. Starting with No. 1 Dee Hart, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Brandon Ivory

No. 77 Arie Kouandjio
Redshirt junior offensive lineman

Expectations for 2013: It's been a tough go of it for Kouandjio, who has dealt with a number of injuries since joining the Crimson Tide in 2010. The former No. 14-ranked offensive guard out of Maryland redshirted his first year on campus, had a season-ending knee injury early in 2011 and had a setback during the spring last year that hindered his development. Now back near 100 percent, Kouandjio is the frontrunner to play alongside his brother, Cyrus, at left guard.

Best-case scenario: You can't underestimate the chemistry between brothers. Cyrus, who signed with Alabama in 2011, is arguably the best left tackle in the country and this year he'll get the added benefit of knowing what the player to his right is doing at all times. "I mean he's my brother so of course we already have camaraderie and understand each other," Cyrus said this spring. While Arie might not be the talent Chance Warmack was last season, the understanding between he and Cyrus on the football field should pay unique dividends.

Worst-case scenario: Cyrus joked with reporters that he calls his brother "Jason" from the "Freddie vs. Jason" horror movies because even though they cut up both his knees and "chop them up real good" he just keeps on coming. Even if he has to scare children and wear a hockey mask, he has to do whatever it takes to stay healthy for Alabama to be successful. But even if he is at his healthiest, there's no guarantee he'll start. Kellen Williams has come on strong and Chad Lindsay is hot on their trail as well. Arie needs a strong fall to shore up his spot as the lead left guard.

Future impact: Arie may not be the long-term option at guard given his age and injury concerns, and Alabama has thought ahead and recruited accordingly. In February, the Tide signed the No. 1 offensive guard in the country in Grant Hill, who will get his chance to show what he can do for the first time this fall. The 2014 class promises more as two of the top 25 guard prospects in the country are already committed to Alabama.