There's really only one 2014 recruit who can steal away some headlines the day before 2013 national signing day, and that's 5-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand.
Hand is the No. 1 overall recruit for 2014 according to the 247Sports composite, and he's the one name recruiting fans need to know this early into the process. Believe me, there are plenty of talented recruits in the 2014 class, but Hand is the only one who can grab the attention of the recruiting world this close to such a big day for the 2013 class.
What did the elite 2014 recruit do to cause a stir? According to quotes via Adam Friedman of Rivals.com, Hand has released a new top five:
"In no order, my new top five is Alabama, Florida, Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia Tech," the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Hand said. "I'm taking North Carolina out and putting Florida in because Coach (Brad) Lawingwent down there and he was one of the main reasons why I liked South Carolina. If it weren't for Coach Lawing, I wouldn't have even thought about Florida."
All five school have good-to-great football programs, and all five would have a lot to offer the 5-star defensive end.
Alabama essentially recruits itself, Florida has dominant potential (especially defensively), Michigan boasts one of the best recruiters in the country in Brady Hoke, South Carolina is an SEC competitor that has produced some quality defensive ends (See: Jadeveon Clowney), and Virginia Tech is his hometown favorite (per Friedman's report).
There's a lot to like about each program, so it will be interesting to see how things shake up. Hand talked a bit about each program, per Friedman's report. Here are his thoughts on Michigan, which really stood out to me:
Michigan: "Michigan has my favorite coaching staff ever. Coach (Greg) Mattison and Coach (Jerry) Montgomery are the coaches that are recruiting me, and I just love to talk to them. I haven't been up there yet, but I'm going to try to get up there soon."
Look for the Wolverines to be a major contender for Hand, especially if Hoke can convince him that the Wolverines' program is back on its way to being a national contender. The other program that could be very interesting in this group is Florida.
Will Muschamp has put together a great 2013 class, and it boasts a handful of top-notch defensive commitments. Florida's defense could end up being elite, and if that is the case, look for the Gators to be an intriguing option for Hand.
It's worth noting that there's literally a year before Hand has to make an official decision, so this top five could be subject to change, and knowing the world of college football recruiting—it probably will.
That said, it's never too early to start talking about the next class up, and with 2013 signing day just hours away, our attention will turn to Hand and his classmates soon enough.
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