Woodbridge All-Met defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand returned home Monday morning from Oregon where he was one of only three rising juniors to compete at the Opening on the Nike campus in Beaverton, an event for 150 of the top high school football players in the country.
Yawning after an overnight flight, Hand spoke of meeting several NFL players and measuring himself against rising seniors, players a year older, headed for big-time schools.
The highlight amid the hubbub, however, was a bit more fundamental.
“Just to get in pads again was amazing,” said Hand, who had not worn them since the All-Met photo shoot in December. “It felt so wonderful just to hit again.”
The Opening is a four-day training and competition session for elite invitees only. Eighty four of the 152 participants were ranked in ESPN’s Top 150 list.
The other Washington area players on the Opening roster, all rising seniors, were Good Counsel All-Met defensive back Kendall Fuller, Briar Woods linebacker Matt Rolin (a South Carolina commit), Gonzaga defensive back Devin Butler (a Notre Dame commit) and Douglass receiver Paul Harris.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Hand, who estimates he has more than 50 scholarship offers, particularly enjoyed talking to Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, who studied engineering at Nebraska just as Hand plans to do at whatever college he chooses.
“We could really relate to each other,” said Hand, who also met Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, Cleveland Browns defensive back Joe Haden (a Friendly graduate) and New York Jets defensive back Darrelle Revis, among others.
“I’m keeping it to a minimum,” Hand said of his summer schedule. “I don’t want anything to get hectic. I’m just going to focus on my team and season and getting ready for school.”