He's a big-time defensive end prospect with star potential at the college level, and he's only a junior. Hand is already listed at 6'5'', 247 pounds, and he runs a 4.60 40, according to 247Sports.
The elite junior is obviously a big-time recruit for 2014, and he's going to end up being a marquee addition to whatever program he'll eventually end up at. There's still a lot of time between now and the national signing day for 2014, thus there's a lot of time for things to change, but Hand already has a top-five list of potential schools.
He took to Twitter to announce his top five:
Greg Ostendorf of ESPN.com quotes Hand on his thought process in regards to his top five:
“The reason why they’re my top five is I love all the coaching staffs,” Hand said. “The academics are amazing. I’ve already visited three of the five schools. I need to visit South Carolina and Michigan, and those aren’t too far.
“The coaches, they stay in contact with me. They have been the most consistent, and they have all the pieces. I feel like I could fit in. That’s about it.”
This is the first of many big steps for 2014's No. 1 overall recruit, and his top five is rather impressive.
Alabama obviously stands out right away, if only because of its recent win over Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship. There's no doubting the fact that Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have the best program right now in college football, and elite recruits have to be taking notice.
Alabama football is becoming synonymous with championships, so the Crimson Tide have to feel good about their early standing with Hand.
Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia Tech would all be considered "tier two" teams in my mind, at least with regard to Hand's list.
The Wolverines offer a nationally relevant program, and Brady Hoke is an excellent recruiter. South Carolina is a contender in the SEC, and one can only imagine that watching Jadeveon Clowney dominant at the defensive end position is a draw for any elite recruit, let alone an elite defensive end recruit.
Virginia Tech has the "home-state advantage" for Hand (he's from Woodbridge, Virginia), and then there's North Carolina—the program that I would consider to be the outlier here, at least from a football perspective.
It's worth noting that Ostendorf also reports that Hand considers Ohio State to be the No. 6 school and that he's not planning on making a decision anytime soon, but closer to national signing day (2014). If Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes can repeat the success they had this past season, Ohio State could become a very interesting program in the mix for Hand.
Every journey starts somewhere, though, and it appears as if Hand will start his with this top five.
There's plenty of time for things to change, and that should be expected in the world of college football recruiting—but for now, Alabama, Michigan, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and North Carolina have to be very happy to be in the early running for 2014's top recruit.