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)

Woodbridge All-Met senior defensive end Da’Shawn Hand announced his commitment to Alabama during a packed ceremony at his school Thursday.

Tabbed as the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit by Rivals.com, Hand had narrowed his 94 scholarship offers down to Alabama, Florida and Michigan before choosing the Crimson Tide on what was also his 18th birthday. He took official visits to all three schools this fall, the latest of which came this past weekend with a trip to see the Gators.

“Ultimately it was my decision because I’ve got to put in the work,” Hand said before dozens of television cameras and hundreds of classmates in the Woodbridge gymnasium. “I’ve got to be on the field, I’ve got to attend the classes.”

Hand said he had received 300 text messages and 50 missed calls earlier in the day, but after the media frenzy that has followed him all season, he said it “ain’t nothin’ I can’t handle.”

Hand signed off his interview with a “Roll Tide.”

At 6-foot-4, 256 pounds, Hand’s package of power, speed and athleticism has made him one of the most highly touted defensive recruits in recent memory. The Washington Post has chronicled Hand’s senior season through a weekly documentary video series called “First and 17.” The series will continue through the end of the Vikings’ season. Woodbridge travels to top-seeded Varina for a first-round Virginia 5A South matchup on Friday.

Earlier Thursday, Hand invited “anyone” to a post-announcement cookout at his home. After his announcement, the bulky teenager said he was ready to eat.

Stay tuned to Recruiting Insider and check out Friday’s paper for much more on Hand’s commitment.

— Read Dave Sheinin’s in-depth profile of Hand, his background, and the arduous process of choosing between the top football programs in the country

— Michael Alison Chandler takes a look at how Woodbridge High is handling the spotlight

— View the full First and 17 series here

Top recruit Da'Shawn Hand squares off against his former coach and mentor John Harris as the Vikings face a must-win game against rival Gar-Field. Hand makes his third and final official visit, this time to the University of Florida, on the eve of his announcement. (Brad Horn and Jayne Orenstein/The Washington Post)