Meet the 2013 Tide Players: Ryan Kelly, Cyrus Kouandjio, Leon Brown, and Brandon Hill


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Ryan Kelly

Replacing an All-American is tough. Replacing a three-time All-American at three different positions is even tougher. That is the task facing sophomore center Ryan Kelly.

Fan favorite Barrett Jones earned All-American honors in his only season at center in 2012. Now, Kelly looks to replace him.

The 6’5, 297 pound Kelly earned SEC All-Freshman honors in 2012 as Jones’ backup and playing in nine games.

Kelly tore an ACL in his senior year of high school at Lakota West High School in West Chester, Ohio. Even though he did not finish the season, Kelly earned a spot on the Under Armour All-American team as well as being ranked as a top ten center by ESPNU, and

The Rimington Trophy Watchlist included Kelly when it was released over the summer. He is expected to be a quality center for AJ McCarron’s offense in 2013.

Cyrus Kouandjio

Alabama and Auburn fight each other for recruits every year. One of the biggest recruiting battles occurred in 2011 over the top offensive line prospect in the nation, Cyrus Kouandjio. On signing day, Kouandjio announced his intentions to sign with Auburn but didn’t sign his letter of intent. He waited a few days and then announced his intentions to sign with the University of Alabama.

Kouandjio played in eight games at left tackle as a true freshman in 2011. His season ended early when injuring a knee against Tennessee.

As a sophomore, he started every game for Alabama. Kouandjio made over 20 pancake blocks during the season. The coaching staff named him the offensive player of the week against LSU after having three pancake blocks. The following week, he had no missed assignments and two pancake blocks against Texas A&M. He led the team with four pancake blocks against Georgia when Alabama rushed for over 300 yards.

Look for Kouandjio to protect AJ McCarron’s blind side during the year and go onto the NFL in the spring. Cyrus Kouandjio’s draft stock was high this past NFL Draft. Fans should enjoy watching him this season because the odds of him returning for his senior season are as high as Kentucky’s odds of winning the BCS in 2012.

Leon Brown

Leon Brown committed to Alabama in June, 2012 and enrolled in January after graduating from ASA College in Brooklyn, New York. The 6’6, 313 pound offensive tackle played high school football at Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland.

Many expected Brown to take over for D.J. Fluker at the right tackle spot. However, he has not taken the reigns of the position, allowing Austin Shepherd to take the spot during spring practice.

ESPNU, 247Sports, and rated Brown a four-star prospect while gave him a three-star rating. He was seen as a top five Junior College offensive tackle prospect by many.

Message board rumors began to pick up in June and July suggesting Brown got on Coach Nick Saban’s bad side and may no longer be on the team. However, those rumors stopped when Brown took the practice field with the Crimson Tide last Friday for the first practice of the fall.

Look for Brown to get plenty of playing time in 2013. He may take the starting right tackle spot from Shepherd, or he will be one of the first offensive line players off the bench in 2013.

Brandon Hill

Brandon Hill signed to play football with Alabama in 2012 but failed to qualify, causing him to spend the 2012 season at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia.

The Collierville, Tennessee native committed to Ole Miss in November, flipped back to Alabama on Christmas Day and enrolled in January to go through spring practice. He reportedly weighed close to 400 pounds upon arrival. He now weighs 385 after going through strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran’s summer workout. At 6’6, that weight isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Don’t expect much from him in 2013. He may work his way into the offensive line rotation, but that is doubtful. He will most likely lose a little more weight and get in playing shape for 2014 and 2015.