Woodbridge (Va.) defensive end Da’Shawn Hand is the No. 1 player in the country, according to Rivals.com.
The 6-4, 250-pounder has an uncanny combination of athletic ability and intelligence when it comes to football, and has earned that mantle over the course of four years on the field for his team and several camp performances during the off-seasons.
Hand will finally make his college decision at noon ET Thursday. Alabama, Florida and Michigan are the three teams remaining in the running. He saw Michigan beat Notre Dame on Sept. 7, Alabama pound Tennessee on Oct. 26 and, this past weekend, was at “The Swamp” when Florida fell to Vanderbilt.
Though Wolverines fans are down on their team following back-to-back losses with negative rushing yardage, that shouldn’t be a major detriment to the Wolverines’ chances to bring in Hand.
“He’s been so meticulous throughout the process,” said Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell. “It’s not about how the team is playing, or he’d be signed, sealed, and delivered to Alabama. At this point, it’s academics and comfort for him.”
While Hand is keeping quiet during the final days of his decision-making process, U-M is considered by many to be the favorite.
Should Michigan reel him in, it would be the first time in the history of Rivals.com that the country’s top player becomes a Wolverine. By joining Paramus (N.J.) Catholic cornerback Jabrill Peppers in the 2014 class, Hand also would give Michigan the first one-two punch at the top of the rankings for any school in the history of Rivals.
"Hand is a rare athletic specimen who has incredible body control and balance for a big rush end and is very hard to knock off his feet," Farrell said. "He's very quick off the snap, has a nice array of pass-rushing moves and he strings the run out well by taking on blocks and shedding at the proper time. He beats defenders so easily at times it looks like he's going at half speed.”
For the Michigan program, that pass-rush ability and strength along the defensive front may help defensive coordinator Greg Mattison take his unit to the next level.
Tim Sullivan is the Football Recruiting Editor of The Wolverine magazine and TheWolverine.com, and a contributor to the Detroit Free Press.