Alabama’s offensive line lost three starters to graduation and the NFL draft this offseason, while right guard Anthony Steen and left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio returned to the Capstone to continue their collegiate careers this semester.
The big challenge entering the spring was replacing such dynamic and experienced players like Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker and Barrett Jones at such an integral position.
After the Crimson Tide’s ninth spring practice on Monday, Arie Kouandjio said the Crimson Tide is managing to retool its offensive line just fine.
“I feel good about all the guys on the line,” Kouandjio said. “I feel very confident in the ability that we have on any side of the ball or any position. I’m really confident in what we can do and what we can obtain this year.”
Kouandjio has been playing at left guard so far this spring, lining up next to his younger brother Cyrus. Austin Shepherd has taken most of the first-team snaps at right guard this spring, and Ryan Kelly has taken over the duties of playing center.
The threesome are familiar with each other, having worked together last season on the second-team unit, and Kouandjio said that experience has helped them to build a bond that just keeps growing.
“It gave us something to build on, and we’ve just got to keep building, keep stacking those bricks.”
Kouandjio said it was a blessing to be able to be at the top of the depth chart. But he was especially happy to be able to line up beside his brother.
“It’s insane,” he said. “I love it. We’re really in sync, and we know how each of us feel. We don’t even have to talk that much to know what’s going on and stuff like that with each other. It’s really cool.”
He said he and his brother have been through a lot and have used their experiences together growing up to their advantage on the playing field.
In Cyrus’s first year at Alabama, both brothers suffered injuries and went through rehabilitation together. It was then that they started to push each other to become better players by making everything a competition.
“That’s when the competition came in, and that helped a lot,” Kouandjio said. “We turned it into a game, and we’re here now.”
Alabama returns to practice on Wednesday.