Michigan's pass rush has been average for quite some time now, and the Wolverines are looking for players who can add athleticism and all-around game to their defensive front. Enter super recruit Da'Shawn Hand.
Where do we start? Hand has everything you want in a defensive end. First, his body is clearly elite: he stands at 6'4", 245 pounds, and doesn't carry an ounce of unclean weight. He could easily add fifteen pounds to his frame without losing his explosiveness, which is ridiculous for a young man his size. He looks a bit tight in the lower back and doesn't seem as flexible as some of the elite defensive lineman before him, but his explosiveness and strength make up for it.
Hand comes off of the ball quicker than any other defensive end in his class, and he arrives with force when he meets the lineman who's blocking him. He doesn't have the reach of someone like Jadeveon Clowney, but he's special nonetheless. His combination of athleticism and strength will make him an elite pass rusher and an elite run defender. He took on the nation's best junior offensive at Nike's Opening event when he was only a sophomore and looked like the best defensive lineman there. He's the real deal.
Listing Hand's offer sheet would be useless: he holds an offer from every major program in the country. He released a top five of South Carolina, Michigan, Florida, Alabama and Virginia Tech back in February, and the school that he ends up at will most likely come from that group. He's looking for a combination of academics, coaching and atmosphere.
The early favorite in Hand's recruitment was Virginia Tech. They were one of his first official offers and have the advantage of being the in-state favorite; it's no surprise that Hand has visited the Hokies more than any other school so far. He visited Alabama back in July and was just in Ann Arbor this weekend. The visit to Michigan went as well as it possibly could have, with Hand saying that he "needs to come back soon".
I don't see a player like Hand committing to a school early. He'll most likely visit his top schools officially before coming to a decision, so don't expect him to pull the trigger for Michigan or anyone else any time soon.
Da'Shawn is a recruit who genuinely cares about academics, and he also wants to find a coaching staff that he enjoys being around. He has consistently called Michigan's coaching staff his favorite coaching staff, and none of the schools at the top of his list boast the kind of academic prestige that Michigan brings to the table. I said it during our preseason roundtable and I'll say it again: I think Da'Shawn Hand ends up at the University of Michigan.
If Hand doesn't end up in Ann Arbor he'll probably find himself playing at Virginia Tech, although you can't ever count out Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. I'm excited to see where Da'Shawn ends up.