Da’Shawn Hand picks Alabama over Florida, Michigan (updated)

November 14, 2013

Recruiting Insider: Da’Shawn Hand commits to Alabama

Da’Shawn Hand made his choice known shortly before 1 p.m. EST, saying in a pep rally/press conference at Woodbridge (Va.) High that “it was a long process, but next year I will be attending the University of Alabama.”

Hand, making his announcement on his 18th birthday, cited the engineering school as well as the football program as factors in his decision.

“Ultimately it was my decision because I’ve got to put in the work,” he told the crowd after placing an Alabama cap on his head. “I’ve got to be on the field, I’ve got to attend the classes.”

From earlier:

Today, on his 18th birthday, the nation’s top high school recruit will put an end to the suspense.

Da’Shawn Hand, the Woodbridge (Va.) High School star defensive lineman, will announce which college football team he’ll be playing for next fall. Hand has narrowed the list to three after receiving 94 scholarship offers. Will it be Alabama, the two-time national champion? Florida? Michigan?

His announcement will come during a pep rally with his family, his teammates and his classmates, streamed live on Washington Post Sports all sharing in the experience.

“When you have the best, THE BEST, you gotta cherish it and relish it and enjoy it,” Kevin Smith his former Woodbridge coach, told the Post’s Michael Alison Chandler. “This is a once in a lifetime thing.”

Hand has been thinking about this day for a long, long time, as he told the Post’s Dave Sheinin last summer.

“When I was 8, I had a dream,” said Hand, a 6-foot-4, 256-pound senior defensive end. “I couldn’t make this up. I had a baby-blue suit on. I was committing to a college. I was a wide receiver — ’cause that’s what my dad was. ‘The number one player in the nation — Da’Shawn Hand! What school is he going to choose?’ ”

In the childhood dream, there was a hat in front of him — which, per signing day tradition, would reveal which college he had chosen. But when he put the hat on, it was blank. That’s how the dream ended, in mystery.

Now he peered into the trophy case. On the bottom shelf, a shriveled football was scribbled with the words: “1972 Commonwealth District Champions 10-0.”

“Two weeks ago I was in the bed, just lying awake,” he said, still lost in his thoughts. “I almost cried. I’ve been working hard, and now it’s almost here.”

Soon, everyone will know whether Nick Saban, Will Muschamp or Brady Hoke will be Hand’s college coach. The early buzz out of Michigan is that Alabama will be the winner. More, from Sheinin:

Hand will put on a tailored, baby-blue suit — for it had to be so — and announce his choice. Millions of people in one pocket of the country will rejoice. Twice that many, in two other pockets, will curse and weep. Some will tweet, text and e-mail vile things to him, as has already happened with other schools eliminated from the list.

“Picking this college,” his mentor and former position coach John Harris tells him, “is going to be the first major decision of your adult life.”

Until Hand speaks, the speculation is coming fast and furious:

More from AllMetSports.com

A vaunted college football recruit with a heavy decision on his mind

An oral commitment doesn’t always end recruiting process

Video: Hand, Vikings clinch playoff berth with Week 10 win

Watch: The full First and 17 series

Graphic: Hand’s options

Gallery: The Hand story

Follow @allmetsports on Twitter: #HandPicks #firstand17

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren · November 14, 2013