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Arie Kouandjio Has Toughness To Succeed In NFL

Posted May 25, 2015

Five years ago, Arie Kouandjio left Maryland to play at the University of Alabama. Back in the area again with the Redskins, he's hoping what he learned in college spills over.

Welcome back to the Washington, D.C., area, Arie. As he looks to build upon his career at Alabama, rookie Washington Redskins offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio's toughness stands out in his game. 

In a lot of ways, Redskins offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio was like a lot of other teenagers growing up.

Despite having his whole family with him by his side as he attended DeMatha (Md.) High School, Kouandjio wanted to leave for new scenery.

Despite receiving an offer from closer schools like Maryland, Wake Forest and Tennessee, Kouandjio elected to attend Alabama.

After four productive seasons at Alabama, two of which ended with National Championships, Kouandjio this month was selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Redskins.

While being selected by any NFL team is certainly merits celebration, Kouandjio’s selection by the Redskins meant a little bit more to the family.

“A lot of people in my family are big Redskins fans because I grew up here so the house has exploded entirely,” he said at rookie minicamp. “Everybody was happy. I think my brother made the comment that he appreciates this rather than me going the first round anywhere else. So it’s a big blessing. I thank God for the opportunities that he’s given me and I’m just following his will.”

Kouandjio said it’s almost a nostalgic experience as he continues to re-acclimate to life in the Washington, D.C., area.

“I get to be around a bunch of my friends and family members,” he said. “When I was younger I didn’t really appreciate being at home and when it was time to go to college I just picked up my stuff and went, and being home and being able to do that is just an added bonus.”

Kouandjio is part of a rookie class that also includes fellow offensive linemen Brandon Scherff and Austin Reiter.

Together, the trio helps bolster the offensive line’s depth, which is certainly something the team was looking to accomplish during the offseason.

While his position -- whether it be left guard or right guard -- is still unknown, the 6-foot-5, 315 pounder does believe Alabama instilled similar qualities into him that it has into others that also came from the school.

“Toughness, patience, discipline, commitment, effort, and pride,” he said when asked about what he learned there. “Those are the big things that we harp on and focus on and that’s what I feel like I have instilled in me.”

From a mental standpoint, few may be able to outlast him.

“Mental toughness, physical toughness, making sure your body dies before your mind does, and just pushing through,” Kouandjio said. “Your body is capable of doing way more than you allow it to. At Alabama you have to push through that.”

During his early years at Alabama, Kouandjio underwent surgery on his right knee, but also ended up getting surgery on his left one as well as a precaution.

The surgeries did not affect his playing status, as he played every game during his last two seasons.

Still feeling great years later, Kouandjio is hopeful to make an impact early on.  

“From what I’ve heard, the guys who make it through the initial stages of my rehab process are usually good,” he said. “Usually the tough part of my surgery is you hear about the guys getting ACL surgery and they usually come back pretty quick, but with my surgery sometimes the guys don’t come back, but if they do it’s usually pretty good.”

RELATED LINKS:
-- Arie Kouandjio Experiences Full-Circle Moment
-- Arie Kouandjio Signs His Redskins Contract
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