The impact that Hand would have on the Wolverines program is undeniable, and if he were to commit to Michigan, that decision alone could drastically impact the future of the football program—both on the field and on the recruiting trail.
He'll be visiting Ann Arbor this weekend, according to Steve Lorenz of 247Sports.com.
Here's an in-depth analysis on why Michigan desperately needs to land Hand.
In every rise to the top there is a defining moment, though, and landing Hand could essentially be that moment for Michigan.
It would be a statement to the college football world that Michigan isn't just on the way back to the top, but is already back on top.
Will Michigan #LandHand?
Michigan could very well take the step from a great recruiting team to an elite recruiting team if Hand were to come aboard.
He would also play a huge factor on the field, and that's the next area we'll break down...
He'll be able to rush the passer at an extremely high level because of his speed and technique, and he'll play strong against the run and set the edge as a defensive end, which will be huge for Michigan.
Mattison likes to run a ton of blitz schemes, and that also suits Hand if the defensive end needs to drop back into coverage. He has great athleticism and should be comfortable in space. I don't see him having trouble covering the "hook to curl" zone—or even the flats—because of his speed.
Hand could end up being a true difference-maker for Michigan on defense.
For as improved as Michigan has been under Mattison, the need for an elite pass-rusher is still there. That could take Michigan's defense from good to great, especially with Mattison calling the plays.
Michigan sacked the quarterback 22 times during the 2012 season (cfbstats.com). Linebacker Jake Ryan was the leader in sacks with five, and senior defensive end Craig Roh followed him with four sacks.
That said, none of these players possess the type of game-changing superstar potential that Hand does.
Michigan needs to get more production in regards to getting after the quarterback if it wants to take the step from great to elite. Compare the 2012 sack numbers to a few other Big Ten programs and you'll see that there is quite a difference.
To break this down even further, take a look at the sack leaders. Defensive lineman John Simon led Ohio State with nine sacks, Wisconsin's sack leaders were defensive linemen Tyler Dippel and Brendan Kelly with five each. Defensive end Eric Martin led Nebraska with 8.5 sacks, and defensive lineman Tyler Scott notched nine sacks for Northwestern (cfbstats.com).
A defensive end of Hand's quality could single-handedly put intense pressure on the edges of the line of scrimmage, and that would help out the two interior defensive linemen next to him in regards to their pass rush.
There's also the concern that when you blitz, you're taking a calculated risk. Good teams will know their hot reads and exploit blitzes, no matter who is calling the plays or how disguised it may be. Mattison will always bring pressure from the second level, but if his defense can get more push and pressure up front, specifically from the edges, it will only make the blitz game that much more effective.
Getting a strong pass rush from the front four would also help Michigan out in coverage, which is an area that the Wolverines have struggled with at times (though they undoubtedly are much better).
The simple concept of front-four pressure in regards to coverage is that if the defensive line can take care of getting pressure, that will allow Michigan to drop more players back into coverage. It also puts a strain on the passing game since the quarterback will be rushed into his reads and may make a bad decision or two.
The passing game is all about timing, and a good front four can really throw that off, especially in obvious passing situations.
Here's a play that will haunt Michigan fans for a while from the Outback Bowl:
That would mean that on the two man side, the safety and the corner would both be responsible for their quarter of the field. The strong safety would be out of the box, and his responsibility would be the No. 2 receiver on the right side if he went vertical, which he does. Perhaps South Carolina would find a different option there, but that seam route that they scored on would be effectively gone because Mattison didn't need to bring an extra player into the box to blitz. On the three man side, Michigan could man up on the outside receiver and play a cover two on No. 2 and No. 3. This defense would have every zone covered besides the flats on the two man side, but at least you don't give up that touchdown:
That's the difference an elite pass-rusher can have on a defense—and specifically coverage—and that's the defensive impact Hand could have for Michigan.
Hand has the potential and the ability to be the catalyst of an incredible pass-rush for Michigan.
We've seen how Jadeveon Clowney has impacted opposing offenses from his defensive end position at South Carolina, and Hand projects to be the same type of player.
Having that type of game-changing, scheme changing player on defense would be a first for Michigan in a while, with the possible exception of Mike Martin. That said, Hand has the ability to be much more effective as a game-changer than Martin, and that's saying a lot.
Hand is a must-have recruit for Michigan, because his impact on the Wolverines program would be undeniable.
Michigan could potentially go from great, to elite.