Alabama received some good news Thursday, as top-five high school prospect Da'Shawn Hand announced his verbal pledge to the Tide in a ceremony at his high school. Hand, rated as the fourth-best player in the country by the 247sports composite, is a defensive end from Virginia, making it five states (the others being Louisiana, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Iowa) where the Tide have secured the top prospect.
Roll Bama Roll is impressed with the young defensive end, who is the 23rd commitment of the Tide's class.
At 6-4 and 260 pounds, Hand is a physical player with a rare combination of quickness, strength, and smarts. He is equally good against the run as he is the pass. He has great ability to diagnose a play and make his move.
Hand was long rumored to be a Michigan lean, and Anthony Mammel of Maize N Brew said the Wolverines' recent on-field struggles may have allowed Nick Saban to make a move.
In a way, Michigan saw this one coming. Brady Hoke, Greg Mattison and Michigan recruiting analysts across the Midwest mostly believed Da'Shawn Hand was destined for Ann Arbor, but the cloud of depression hovering over the college town disagreed. Losses have piled up, and the scariest man in the game today smelled blood in the water. There Michigan's coaching staff was, selling academic prestige and playing time as it flopped around in the ocean, blood creating red clouds in the water. Nick Saban doesn't miss that target.
Florida was considered to be the odd team out between the three, and Andy Hutchins at Alligator Army wrote before the announcement that it was a good sign the Gators were even considered.
Will that be enough for Hand to make the call for Florida? Probably not. But it's definitely not a bad thing to be a hat on a table for a five-star prospect as good and publicly acknowledged as Hand, who's been the subject of a great Washington Post series chronicling his senior year, and has been basically the only thing Rivals has been able to talk about this week.