- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
When Da’Shawn Hand, arguably the nation’s No. 1 player for 2014, arrived at the University of Alabama for the first time, he was surprised with how the hot the weather is in Tuscaloosa.
However, the heat didn’t prevent Hand from enjoying himself on the visit. The Woodbridge, Va., native was in town from Friday to Wednesday and got the chance to see pretty much everything the Crimson Tide have to offer.
“I saw everything,” Hand said. “The locker rooms, the weight room, the sports complex, the basketball courts, the academic building, the dorms, and the Bear Bryant museum, that was really cool and interesting.
“I just saw what everyday life is and how campus life is. I talked to the engineering team and met with [Nick] Saban, met with the players, talked to some of the people in town. It was cool.”
When you’re as talented as Hand is, meeting new coaches should be nothing new, but he says it’s still an honor to meet any college coach. On his trip to UA, he met Saban for the first time, and it wasn’t what he expected.
“Of course, we talked about football, but we just had a real conversation,” Hand said. “There was no pressure or anything. He’s just a good person. It wasn’t what I expected because I was expecting him to be uptight or what not, but he’s actually real laid back, a normal guy who’s down to earth.”
On the football side, Saban said he could see the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Hand as a defensive end or possibly a Jack linebacker in the Tide’s defense. At the camp, he worked out at defensive end where he dominated the one-on-ones but also learned a thing or two.
“It was fun,” Hand said. “It was a nice learning process. They taught me some new techniques and helped me improve my game, so it was really cool.”
Hand, who was one of only three underclassmen to be invited to The Opening this year, has scholarship offers from virtually every school in the country. He plans to narrow a list down after his junior year and wants to have a top five by the end of his senior season.
The 2014 star has already visited North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech this summer and is expected to visit Ohio State for Friday Night Lights on July 27. He also wants to make a return trip to Alabama this fall, preferably for the Iron Bowl.
“That’s the game I’ll probably go to.”
3dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough