Kouandjio brothers living the American dream

Two of the most talented offensive linemen in the country not only are members of the same unit, but are brothers who start for the two-time defending national champions. Their former high school coach, Elijah Brooks of Dematha Catholic, gives insight into their journey and their development.

Hyattsville (Md.) Dematha Catholic head coach Elijah Brooks has seen some talented prospects come through his school. Two of the most talented were two brothers, Cyrus Kouandjio and Arie Koundajio, who are now both starting for the defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide.

"They always had the potential to do some great things," Brooks said. "To see them on Saturday's, we just went to their game against Tennessee, to have an opportunity to hang out with those guys and see how far they've come.

"To see their work ethic and where they're headed, we couldn't be prouder."

People get into coaching for a variety of reasons. Some do it for love of the game, some for the love of competition. Elijah Brooks, however, says he does it to help young men realize their dreams.

"It's the American dream," Brooks said. "He came here and he didn't know how to put his equipment on. Playing football for the first time then to see him grow year after year.

"Then to have the opportunity to possibly go high in the (NFL) draft, that's why we do what we do so that we can see kids reach their dreams. We're extremely proud."

Brooks has been watching both of his former offensive linemen throughout their careers with the Tide. He has noticed both improve significantly to become complete players.

"Cyrus has always been extremely athletic," Brooks said. "Where he's excelled is in the run game. When he gets his hands on guys now at that level, after being in the strength program, he does a great job at moving guys.

"Arie struggled with pass protection when he was in high school. But to see him grow and improve in that area, it's a pleasant site to see."

Alabama is looking at a third consecutive national championship game if they finish out their schedule without a blemish. There is no secret who Brooks will be cheering for should that scenario play out.

"Obviously, as long as we have kids playing on those teams, we're going to root for our boys," Brooks said. "If there ever comes a time where we have guys on both teams, we'll see how that happens.

"But if Alabama makes it to the national championship game, we're going for Alabama."

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