Woodbridge defensive end and top college recruit Da'Shawn Hand announces that he plans to play at the University of Alabama next year. (The Washington Post)

Da’Shawn Hand, the nation’s top college football recruit, has set his sights on the nation’s top-ranked football team, announcing Thursday that he plans to attend the University of Alabama.

Alabama has claimed 15 national championships, the most in the country. The school’s football coach, Nick Saban, is widely admired as a talented force who grooms players for professional careers.

Of his three choices, the school also has the least competitive overall acceptance rate, with 53 percent of applicants accepted in 2012. Hand has said he plans to major in civil engineering.

Some observers had wondered whether Hand, who has pursued rigorous engineering coursework in high school and has an overall B-average, would choose Michigan for its highly rated academic reputation.

The star defensive lineman from Woodbridge Senior High School announced his choice by placing a crimson hat emblazoned with the Alabama “A” on his head during a pep rally in his high school gymnasium that was broadcast live.

“It was a long process, but next year I will be attending the University of Alabama,” he said, prompting a loud cheer from his classmates.