The nation’s top football recruit will consider more than just football when he makes his college decision.
That fact became clear this week when defensive end Da’Shawn Hand from Woodbridge (Va.) Senior High School announced his top three schools are Alabama, Florida and Michigan. Missing was Virginia Tech, once considered by many analysts to be the favorite to land Hand.
What took Virginia Tech and South Carolina, another school Hand was considering, out of the running? It was academics, not football.
“I eliminated Virginia Tech because they don’t offer a sports marketing program,” Hand said, according to SB Nation. “And with South Carolina, the professor just didn’t wow us. I have the utmost respect for Virginia Tech and South Carolina and their coaches and wish them the best of luck.”
It’s a strong statement by Hand, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 1 prospect by Rivals. Prospects often mention their education as an important factor in their recruitment but rarely eliminate schools so early in the process simply based on academic concern.
That’s what helped the top three schools Hand is considering.
“At Michigan, the (sports marketing) program was so impressive, I wanted to sign up right there,” he said. “During my visit to Alabama, I met the dean of their (sports marketing) program, and it’s an excellent program. He actually played football and he gets it. And I haven’t been to Florida yet, but I’ve heard their defensive coaching staff and that defensive line with coach (Brad) Lawing and coach D.J. Dunkin is amazing. And Alabama’s engineering program was working on a $25 million project when I was down there.”
As impressive as it is that Hand is focused on academics, the story will end up being the impact he can make as a football player.
Michigan is considered the favorite to land Hand, according to analysts at 247Sports. Among the analysts making their prediction, 55 percent predict Hand will pick Michigan. But not everyone has updated their predictions, with 12 percent of the votes still going to Virginia Tech.
JC Shurburtt was one analyst to switch his prediction to Alabama, citing a “source” as the reason for picking the Crimson Tide. And there’s plenty of time for things to change between now and the day Hand signs with a school. But one thing is for sure: Hand will consider more than just football.
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