Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Florida Gators [Print without images]

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Da'Shawn Hand decides to shake it up

By Dave Hooker

Da’Shawn Hand has new top five.

The ESPN Watch List defensive end from Woodbridge (Va.) High said via text message that Florida had replaced North Carolina in his top grouping. Hand is now primarily considering the Gators, Alabama, Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.

With dozens of offers, the 6-foot-4, 245-pound prospect figures to be one of the top players in the 2014 class.

Hand said the inclusion of Florida in his top five was based on Brad Lawing. He coached at South Carolina before being hired as Florida's defensive line coach last month.

The Gators will have plenty of competition. Here is what Hand has previously said about his other four finalists:

South Carolina: "Jadeveon Clowney," Hand said when asked what he liked about the Gamecocks. "That man, boy, that's all I think about when I think about South Carolina. I look at what they did with him and it's amazing. You can tell they give people equal opportunity. The way the defense works, everybody sticks together. They never quit. They always have a knack for getting to the football."

Michigan: "I like all the coaching staffs of each school (among his finalists), but Michigan has my favorite coaching staff," Hand said. "Virginia Tech has my favorite coach -- [defensive coordinator] Bud Foster. But as a staff, Michigan, they have character. You can tell everything is smooth. There's a lot of team chemistry. The coaches get along. But when you've got to get the job done, you've got to get the job done. It's not all fun and games. But at the same time, they're not like robots."

Virginia Tech: Other than Foster, Hand said he liked the fact that the Hokies were close to home, then added, "They have a great engineering program. It's a technical school, so that kind of speaks for itself."

Alabama: "They're pretty good," Hand said with a deadpan chuckle. "Oh man, there's really nothing you can't say good about Alabama. They have the players. They have the coaches. They have academics, and they win national championships. You can't get any better than that."