Hand: Nation's No. 1 recruit chooses his school
Alabama it is.
Woodbridge (Va.) defensive lineman and Rivals.com’s No. 1 overall football prospect in the nation Da’Shawn Hand has decided to play out his college career for coach Nick Saban and the two-time reigning national champion Crimson Tide, he announced Thursday on NBCSN.
The 6-4, 260-pound senior chose Alabama over the two other schools on his final list, Florida and Michigan.
“It was a long process but next year, I will be attending the University of Alabama,” Hand announced. “It was hard, but I think I made the right decision. Roll Tide.”
Ranked No. 1 overall in Rivals.com’s 2014 football recruiting rankings, Hand is an impressive combination of size, speed, and balance. Throughout his recruitment, he has emphasized academics as a driving force behind his decision.
"Dean [Charles] Carr, he's the engineering dean, he's a football guy," Hand said. "I just, I love that guy. Like I said, I love civil engineering and they have that major. A couple of the players that actually play are taking that major. It was hard, but I think I made the right decision.
"I got to really see how the campus life is outside of the football season, as well as I went on my official and I seen how the game day atmosphere is," Hand continued. "I see the culture. They've got a winning tradition."
He now becomes the crown jewel of Alabama’s 23-man 2014 class.
Hand is expected to make an immediate impact when he gets playing time at the college level, following his impressive high school career at Woodbridge.
"All the coaches, they care about their players. They don't lie to you. They tell you how it is," Hand said. "I know when I go in I'm not going to be No. 1 on the depth chart and I know I've got to do a lot of hard work. They have the most freshman playing this year, so anything is possible."
During his junior season in 2012, Hand recorded 110 tackles, 40 tackles for a loss, and 16 sacks. That followed a 21-sack season during his sophomore year in 2011.
Hand received over 90 Division-I scholarship offers over the course of his recruitment, the first of which came from Boston College during his freshman season.
He is the third defensive lineman in four years to be ranked as the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect according to Rivals.com, following Ole Miss’ Robert Nkemdiche and South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney.