Best available defensive ends

With the final quarter of the 2014 recruiting cycle approaching, 247Sports takes a look at the best prospects available at each position. In this series, the industry-generated 247Composite is utilized, which compiles the ratings and rankings used by the major recruiting services and is used in the 247Sports Team Recruiting Rankings, making them the most unbiased and comprehensive in the recruiting industry.

Da'Shawn Hand will take an official visit to Alabama this weekend.

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In this feature, we check out the five best available defensive ends. Arguably the most premium position when it comes to recruiting, this also happens to be the strongest group of available talent at any position in the country. Three of the prospects are 247Composite five-star recruits, and the other two are well inside the top 100. Edge rushers with elite size and wingspan, defensive coordinators from coast-to-coast are drooling at the thought of adding one of these five defensive ends.

Da’Shawn Hand, Woodbridge (Va.) Woodbridge

The next three weeks will be huge for schools hoping to land Hand, considered the consensus No. 1 defensive end in the country. This weekend the five-star prospect will take his second official visit to Alabama, followed by a third official to Florida Nov. 8. While Florida is considered a longshot to land Hand, the Crimson Tide are hoping to make a big push on the 6-foot-4, 255-pound senior, who has not been to Alabama in a year and a half. As of now, Alabama or Florida will have to make a huge impression on Hand to pull him away from Michigan, who has done an outstanding job recruiting him over the last two years. Hand is set to decide Nov. 15.

Crystal Ball: 84 percent Michigan, 14 percent Alabama, three percent Florida

Lorenzo Carter, Norcross (Ga.) Norcross

While his performance against Miami (Fla.) Central was not up to the lofty standards he set during his 18-sack junior campaign, there is no doubt Carter is still very highly coveted by every school in the Southeast. Over the summer, Carter named Florida his leader, but has since gone back to naming a top three of Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Carter has already taken an official visit to Florida, so Alabama and Georgia will have a chance to schedule their official visit later in the cycle. Carter has made multiple unofficial visits to Athens. Ga. already, and is expected to be in Tuscaloosa, Ala. for the LSU game. Making a solid impression on his mother will put three premier recruiters – Brad Lawing, Bryan McClendon and Kirby Smart, to the test. A signing day decision is expected as of now.

Crystal Ball: 78 percent Alabama, 14 percent Georgia, eight percent Florida, two percent Notre Dame

It could be a Stanford-Texas battle for Solomon Thomas.

Solomon Thomas, Coppell (Texas) Coppell

Thomas yet to publicly eliminate any schools, but most feel his recruitment is down to Stanford and in-state Texas. He has visited Stanford and checked out the Longhorns twice this season, most recently to see the big win over rival Oklahoma. A heavy lean to Stanford, it remains to be seen how each program’s progress this fall has affected his decision.

Crystal Ball: 62 percent Stanford, 35 percent Texas, three percent Ohio State

Malik McDowell, Detroit (Mich.) Southfield

It was already known that Alabama, Florida and LSU were in line to get official visits from McDowell, but now he admits that in-state Michigan and Michigan State could snag his final two officials. Even though Michigan State has had him on campus for two games and Michigan once, this is big news for both programs. Plans are in place for McDowell to announce his decision Jan. 4 at the U.S Army All-American Bowl, but that is subject to change if the 6-foot-5, 280-pound defensive lineman is not ready yet.

Crystal Ball: 100 percent Michigan

Kentavius Street, Greenville (N.C.) Rose

Street will take his first official visit this weekend, to Ole Miss. The 247Composite top 100 prospect will follow it up with an official visit to FSU, the school his father followed while he grew up, the following weekend. Miami will get its crack at the childhood Hurricanes fan Jan. 17, while LSU and NC State official visits have not been set up yet. For several months Street maintained that the Wolfpack were his leader, but he has backed off that stance somewhat, stating all teams are now even.

Crystal Ball: 96 percent NC State, four percent Georgia

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