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Breaking down Hand

The nation’s top prospect in the 2014 cycle, defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va.), eliminated two of his top five, including one perceived long-time favorite, and is now down to three primary suitors.

It's Alabama, Florida and Michigan (alphabetical order) for the nation's No. 1 overall prospect, defensive end Da'Shawn Hand.

Virginia Tech, which was once considered the favorite to land the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder, is out. Hand informed the Hokies coaching staff of his decision Tuesday night, along with South Carolina, which he also let know he was focusing on three.

“I’ve got some cuts to my list and my list is not going to change,” Hand said, adding he was down to Michigan, Florida and Alabama in no order.

So where does that leave things currently for the top prospect in the country?

The Wolverines have been major players for Hand during the entire cycle as he’s been on record multiple times as saying that Michigan has his “favorite coaching staff” of any school that is recruiting him.

Hand had a great unofficial visit to Ann Arbor on March 15. Hand has planned for some time now to officially visit Michigan for the Wolverines home game with Notre Dame on the weekend of Sept. 7.

Hand not only is high on the football aspect of Michigan, but also on the academic aspect of the institution, which will play a major part in his decision. There is no question that Wolverines assistants Greg Mattison and Roy Manning have done an excellent job building a great relationship with Hand. 

Alabama has been making a strong push (and behind the scenes has been optimistic) and as early as a month ago, the Crimson Tide felt like they were in excellent shape with the nation’s top prospect. Crimson Tide recruiters Lance Thompson and Chris Rumph made a ton of progress with Hand during the spring evaluation period and now have Alabama positioned well. The only question is will he visit Tuscaloosa or anywhere this summer?

 He hasn't been to

Florida is the third program in the mix and has to be considered in the third position simply because he’s never been there. A trip to Gainesville is a distinct possibility and the Gators are somewhat of a darkhorse here. Hand had a great relationship with Florida defensive line coach Brad Lawing when Lawing was recruiting him at South Carolina and the Gators jumped into his top five when Lawing began recruiting him for Florida. Hand likes the state of Florida and while he doesn’t know very much about the school (he hasn’t been there), the Gators will have the opportunity to sell him on the academics and athletics at UF. Will Muschamp and staff do as well as anyone at closing gaps in recruiting and surprising with commits. Watch out for Florida, especially if Hand heads to Gainesville for a visit.


-Hand mentioned USC and LSU as two programs who could get looks, but that they were on the outside looking in.

-Sources at various schools involved in Hand's recruitment disagree on where he ultimately will end up. One program which was eliminated felt he was "SEC bound" while another felt Michigan was in excellent shape. Another program currently still in the mix was of the opinion that it was the Hokies and not the Wolverines that it had to beat for Hand's services.

-247Sports Crystal Ball predicts Hand to Michigan 50 percent currently (subject to change).

-Steve Lorenz of Wolverine247 offers a V.I.P. look inside Hand's recruitment.

-Charles Power of BamaOnline interviewed Hand this afternoon about his decision.

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