October 4, 2009

Four-star OT chats with Saban

Hyattsville, Maryland offensive tackle Arie Kouandjio has been an impact player for DeMatha High School throughout his career with the 6-foot-6, 315-pound lineman consistently dominating his competition. Now Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide hope to make Kouandjio an impact player in their 2010 recruiting class, with the Tide putting plenty of focus on the four-star prospect as one of their top remaining targets.

"I talk to the coaches at Alabama probably three times a week now. It's usually Coach [Joe] Pendry and Coach Sal [Sunseri] but Coach Saban has been talking to me more and more lately," Kouandjio said. "Alabama has made it clear from the beginning that I'm a huge priority for them and that means a lot to me. I always enjoy talking to Coach Saban. He's a really smart guy and he's had a lot of great advice for me, stuff that you just don't normally hear from a coach trying to recruit you. He really seems to care about the guys he recruits and he wants me to do what's best for me, even if that means going somewhere else."

Rated as the nation's No. 13 offensive tackle prospect, Kouandjio's size and strength have drawn heavy praise from the Tide's assistant coaches.

"Coach Pendry and Coach Saban both think I can come in right away and compete for a job. They really like my size and my strength and they always tell me that I'm exactly the kind of football player they look for as far as the way I play. I like to be physical and aggressive and I never give up on a play and those are things I think the Alabama coaches really like about me."

After receiving dozens of offers, Kouandjio has ultimately narrowed his list down to seven finalists: Alabama, Cal, Maryland, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Wake Forest and Miami. While Alabama and Cal have both secured official visits from Kouandjio, the senior's remaining three visits are still undetermined. With his senior season well underway, Kouandjio said he doesn't plan on setting dates for his official visits anytime soon.

"I'm talking to all the coaches from my seven top schools pretty regularly now. I've asked them to all call me on different days at least so it doesn't get too overwhelming. I'm really not going to be making any visits or any decisions at all until the season is over but it's important to me that I keep my relationships going with all the coaches so that I get a feel for which coaching staff I feel the most comfortable with."

Meanwhile, Kouandjio and his teammates at DeMatha continue to march toward success with the team's record still perfect and its chances at a potential state title run looking better each week.

"So far, our team has done everything we expected of ourselves. We are 5-0 and we're taking everything one week at a time. We try to focus just on the next game instead of getting caught up in the big picture. If we keep winning, everything else will take care of itself. The season is going by really fast but it's a lot of fun. I'm going to miss high school and that's why I really wanted to take the focus off of recruiting during the season so I could enjoy my last season with my teammates as much as possible."

Kouandjio is a member of the Rivals250 and is rated as the nation's No. 118 overall prospect.

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