Five-star OL wrestles with decision

Five-star OL wrestles with decision

Published Feb. 2, 2011 12:00 a.m. ET

Auburn fans rejoiced Wednesday afternoon when five-star offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandijo, the nation’s No. 2-ranked player according to, announced he would be a Tiger at a news conference at DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) High School. However, viewing the announcement from the front row, I was not convinced he was sold on his own decision. Once he said Auburn, his expression turned to confusion as he sat there biting his lower lip, hinting that something just wasn't right.

Indeed, something is not right.

The 6-foot-7, 320-pound Kouandijo has yet to send Auburn a letter-of-intent and, shortly after his announcement, confirmed he remains uncertain of where he will play college ball.

“There’s doubt in my mind,” he told me in an interview with his family. “There’s still a little bit of questioning in my mind. I have the time, but for right now: Auburn. . . . We’ll see.”


So, Auburn’s potential loss is whose potential gain?

“There are a lot of good things about Alabama. There are a lot of good things and we’ll see,” Kouandijo said.

His parents, who were on hand for the announcement and whose older son Arie plays for Crimson Tide, admitted they did not know what Cyrus would choose until the announcement. Cyrus added he didn’t know which way he would go until he got to the school Wednesday morning.

“As soon as they called I was mumbling when I said I wanted to go to Auburn University. The words just came out. It was Alabama and Auburn and Auburn just came out of my mouth.”

Not the words his parents wanted to hear.

“As a parent, the best thing would have been for him to go with his brother,” his father, Jean-Claud, said. “His brother is already on the field. We know about the coaches, we know about Alabama. We’ve been there for a visit, so it turns out to be a different option for him, but we take it as it is and try to support him if that’s his definite decision; if that is from his heart. We hope in the near future that it would be validated so he can come back and say I was right. That is all the hope we have.”

His father added that Cyrus has been under intense stress, torn between two rivals in the same state with national followings — not the typical stress facing a teenager.

As I left DeMatha this afternoon, I overheard Coach Bill Gregor giving Kouandjio a bit of advice: “Make decisions for you, not anyone else,” he said.

Did it take? Kouandjio has since told me he still doesn’t know.

Kristen Kenney covers college football for