Woodbridge Senior (Va.) defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, a consensus 5-star recruit and the No. 4 player on 247Sports' composite, announced late Sunday night that he would declare his commitment on November 14—the night of his 18th birthday—according to Rivals.com.
Hand is choosing from almost 40 schools, Alabama, Michigan and Florida chief among them. He announced the date of his decision on Twitter, saying he "can't wait" to put the taxing process of recruitment behind him:
I will be committing on Nov 14 at my school. Can't wait to get this over with!— Da'shawn Hand (@TheHand54) August 4, 2013
A uniquely gifted prospect who projects as a 4-3 end, Hand has been courted by nearly every major program in America. According to 247Sports, he has 38 scholarship offers, but all indications say he's narrowed those down to a top three.
Hand's latest crystal ball projections, courtesy of 247Sports, read as follows:
- Michigan: 60 percent
- Alabama: 24 percent
- Florida: 8 percent
- Virginia Tech: 6 percent
Though Virginia Tech is still listed in his predictions, it appears to have fallen far behind the other three schools atop Hand's list. Top-10 recruits Andrew Brown and Quin Blanding, also both from Virginia, elected to stay in-state and play for Virginia, but Hand looks likely to depart.
If no other top-five recruit commits between now and November 14, Hand would be just the second one to do so. The other, ATH/DB Jabrill Peppers, declared his intentions to play at Michigan in May. So if the crystal ball holds true to form and Hand does indeed join the Wolverines, Brady Hoke would have landed the first two top-five prospects off the board.
Per Rivals.com (subscription required), Hand is scheduled to visit Michigan on September 7 for the Wolverines' game with Notre Dame. He hasn't yet planned trips to Alabama or Florida, but he has every intention of doing so:
"My Michigan visit is planned for Sept. 7 to see the Notre Dame game," said the 6-foot-4, 248-pound Hand. "I don't have any other visits planned. I will visit Florida and Alabama, but I don't know when yet.
Florida could probably use Hand's services the most. Michigan already has Peppers locked up and ranks No. 10 on 247Sports' team rankings. Alabama, meanwhile, already has 17 commitments—11 of which are 4- or 5-stars—and ranks as the nation's No. 1 class.
But the Gators have struggled in their 2014 pursuit, securing just 11 commitments and placing with a rank outside the top 20. Hand would be a much-needed boost to next year's class and a keystone piece of Florida's future.
That last part, though, holds true for any team in the country.