Michigan Football: Why the Wolverines Could Live Without Da'Shawn Hand
Sure, Da'Shawn Hand is the No. 1 prospect of the 2014 class.
Sure, he's a mammoth, 6'5", 247-pound talent found just once every few years. He'd be a great addition to the Michigan Wolverines' defense and undoubtedly flourish under defensive coordinator Greg Mattison.
But landing Hand, a defensive end out of Woodbridge High (Va.), isn't a must-do for the Wolverines, as odd as that may sound.
No, Michigan has done an admirable job of recruiting for the 2014 class so far, and Hand wouldn't make or break next year's incoming crop of youngsters. You're probably thinking, "Is this guy out of his mind?!"
Is Da'Shawn Hand a must-land for Michigan?
And that's understandable. Who in their right mind would even remotely suggest that the Wolverines could live without the No. 1 recruit in the nation?
There is valid reasoning behind that statement, though. Michigan has depth, and it'll only increase through the 2014 crop of prospects-turned-commits.
Taco Charlton, a 4-star rated defensive end, will join the Wolverines this fall on the field (already enrolled). Although he's not a world-class athlete like Hand, a 5-star prospect is more than enough for Michigan, which looks to have an incredibly strong defense developing over the next two years.
Wolverines blogger Jeff Contizano believes Michigan has gem in Charlton (via SB Nation's Rodger Sherman):
Charlton is a big athlete with great size and athleticism. He currently plays an outside linebacker role in high school, but will probably play rush end or strong side end in Michigan's defense. There has been some questions on his consistency, but at his best Charlton is undoubtedly one of the most talented pass-rushers in the Midwest. For Michigan, he shouldn't be pressed into an immediate starting role, so there should be time for him to redshirt and the coaches to tap his potential. With three defensive line coaches of the caliber Michigan has, that shouldn't be an issue
Frank Clark showed promise after rejoining Michigan this past fall, and although Hand is the Man of the Hour, Clark shouldn't be discounted. Despite his mediocre size when compared to Hand (6'2", 228 pounds versus 6'5", 247 pounds), Clark has immense potential and is well-suited for the four-man front that Mattison loves to utilize.
The fact that Nathan Brink's career was cut short due to injury warrants recruiting more defensive linemen. Michigan loses depth with Brink's absence. But again, Michigan has done a respectable job of developing its D-Line, and there are others waiting to take Brink's place in the rotation—Brennen Beyer would be the obvious next in line.
Jibreel Black was moved from end to tackle in the spring of 2012. While no move is permanent, it's safe to say that Michigan followers won't see Black playing on the edge. However, given his experience and athleticism, completely dismissing that notion wouldn't be logical.
Are you happy with Michigan's depth/recruiting at DE/DL?
Black could fill in if needed, but he's certainly developed into a sturdy three-technique lineman.
Landing Hand would be a gargantuan step for Michigan. Getting the No. 1 player in the country would only spark the interest of other top-tier prep stars, possibly making Michigan the Ole Miss of the 2014 class. Remember, Ole Miss secured four players who were No. 1 at their respective positions, including defensive end Robert Nkemdiche.
While it remains to be seen if Hand is the next Nkemdiche, Michigan can rest assured that it'll have an elite defense with or without him. It'd be a luxury to have Hand in the fold, but the past two years of recruiting shouldn't be swept under the rug and forgotten.
Hand seems to have genuine interest in Michigan. Jerry Montgomery's move to Oklahoma isn't a deal-breaker for the 5-star defensive end (via the Detroit News):
Montgomery is a good dude, and that's a good move for him, but I'm not interested in Oklahoma whatsoever. That's how I feel about it. He is a good dude, but I like Coach Mattison.
(Mattison) is young at heart. I don't even know how old he is. I think he's like 60—don't tell him I said that—but that dude is 25 at heart. And he's a good guy. He's funny, but he knows what he's talking about. He knows his stuff. He's been a defensive coordinator for the (Baltimore) Ravens. I look up to Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs,—it's so many people, it's endless. And they have so many components to that defense. For him to come to Michigan just shows how dynamic the defense is, and for me to be a part of that, they can move me everywhere and get me prepped for the NFL
Those comments are reassuring. It's quite possible that Hand, who was present for the first day of Michigan spring practice, could join the Wolverines. But don't hold your breath, not right now. The young man has interest from Alabama and Florida, although he holds Michigan high among favorites.
At this point, look at what Michigan has. Look at the type of recruits the Wolverines are targeting. Hand is a wish-list player that could potentially alter the Wolverines defense for the better. OK, not "potentially," he would undoubtedly change it for the better.
But he's not the end-all, be-all at this stage of the game. Michigan doesn't want to, obviously, but it could live without Hand.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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