|Butch Dill/Associated Press|
|Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio is among the elite tackle prospects in college football.|
It's essentially a coin flip as to whether Alabama junior offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, one of the top prospects at any position, chooses to leave the Crimson Tide early for the NFL. That's what the Crimson Tide's best pass protector indicated Sunday in calling the decision "50-50," according to tidesports.com.
"I'll look at my pros and my cons, write it all down and make a decision," he said. "(I'm) like 50-50 now."
But while he might be on the fence about his football future, Kouandjio revealed a far more precise explanation for why he struggled early in the season.
"I think that's what happened at the beginning of the season for me that I didn't play up to the standards I wanted to because I was thinking about all this draft stuff," Kouandjio said. "And I just stopped caring about all that stuff and just started worrying about the games, game after game."
Kouandjio was flagged twice for holding in Alabama's season-opening win over Virginia Tech, was guilty of a false start against Texas A&M on Sept. 14, and struggled at times in pass protection early in the season before regaining top form. Led by Kouandjio's protection of quarterback AJ McCarron's blind side, McCarron was sacked just three times over Alabama's final eight games.
Like many top underclassmen, including Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Miami (Fla.) linebacker Denzel Perryman, Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk and Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief, Kouandjio said he will wait until after his team's bowl appearance to make a final decision.
Alabama (11-1) will face Oklahoma (10-2) in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2.
Kouandjio is among an elite crop of left tackles in the SEC, and many could be available for the draft. That group also includes Texas A&M senior Jake Matthews, Tennessee junior Antonio Richardson, who has already decided to turn pro, LSU junior La'El Collins, Auburn third-year sophomore Greg Robinson, and Vanderbilt senior Wesley Johnson. South Carolina junior left tackle Corey Robinson, also an impressive pro prospect, is expected to stay in school.
Kouandjio (6-foot-6, 310 pounds) has outstanding physical tools for the position, although he is considered somewhat raw in his technique and footwork. He is finishing his second season as a starter for the Crimson Tide.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.