Oklahoma Sooners: Da'Shawn Hand

Cornell, No. 1 in 2015 class, narrows list 

November, 20, 2013
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Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin Derham-Hall), the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2015, has narrowed his top list. After much deliberation, Cornell has cut the list of schools in the running down to 15.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Da'Shawn Hand changing his visit schedule up is good news for Wolverine fans and bad news for Alabama fans; Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma and Texas A&M fans can see big pieces of their 2014 recruiting classes on television Friday night; and one of the top juco recruits in last year’s class is going to redshirt at Kansas.

Looking good for the Wolverines
Five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) was set to visit Florida on Oct. 4 for its game against Arkansas and Alabama on Nov. 8 for its game against LSU with national title implications on the line. However, the SAT is on Oct. 5, causing Hand to alter his schedule. Hand is still ironing out the final details, but it looks like he will visit Alabama on Oct. 25 when its hosts Tennessee, and he'll trip to Florida on Nov. 8 when the Gators host Vanderbilt. He’s already taken a visit to Michigan and will announce his decision on Nov. 14. The Wolverines have been his leader for quite some time with Florida and then Alabama next in line. Some observers have long-worried what a visit to Alabama for what could be the game of the year would do to Hand’s process. But a college coach close to the situation believes the change now gives Michigan a major edge and puts Bama clearly third in the pack. “I would say this puts it at about 80 percent for Michigan,” the coach said. “The biggest question left is whether or not Florida can wow him enough right before his announcement to get him to change his mind.”

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ESPN 300: July 30 update

July, 30, 2013
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Tom Luginbill breaks down the significant movers in the ESPN 300 rankings, including a new player in the top three, players who made massive jumps further down in the rankings and new positional No. 1s at wide receiver and outside linebacker.

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The Opening has concluded and it did not disappoint. The top prospects in the nation were invited to Nike headquarters to display their ability and compete against the best of the best.

RecruitingNation was on hand for every event to take in the happenings throughout the week. Here are a few storylines:

Who committed

Florida State landed two in-state prospects during the final day of The Opening on Wednesday: four-star offensive tackle Corey Martinez (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic) and three-star safety Trey Marshall (Lake City, Fla./Columbia). Marshall was a finalist for the SPARQ national championships where he posted a 40-yard-dash time of 4.34 seconds. ESPN 300 linebacker Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra, Fla./Ponte Vedra), son of former Tennessee Volunteers and Dallas Cowboys safety Bill Bates, verbally committed to the Vols. Four-star linebacker D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) verbally committed to USC over UCLA.


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RN Top 10: The Opening, Day 2 

July, 3, 2013
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The RN Top 10 will appear throughout the camp and combine season and rank prospects based strictly on their on-field performance at that particular event. It does not reflect their overall prospect rankings.

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- After Monday's SPARQ testing, the nation's top players were ready for some actual football Tuesday. With a lineman challenge in the morning and seven-on-seven games throughout the afternoon, each player got a chance to see what he could do against top-notch competition. Many of the usual suspects thrived, but there were also some surprises.

10. Brad Kaaya
Chaminade (Calif.) College Prep | QB | 6-4, 213

Consistency is Kaaya’s game. He bolted out of the gate with a strong performance Saturday at the Elite 11 and then showed throughout Sunday's practice why Miami ventured all the way across the country to snag his commitment. He was almost flawless again Monday and then lit up pool play Tuesday. He drew rave reviews with a throw for a two-point conversion on which he lowered his arm to place the ball in a tight space. "He makes the extremely difficult look really easy," coach and ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer said. -- Jeremy Crabtree


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The Opening, presented by Nike, will feature 162 of the best high school football players in the country. The event, which will include linemen, 7-on-7 and SPARQ testing competitions, is set to run from June 30 to July 3 at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.

The following events from The Opening will be televised on ESPNU:

July 1: SPARQ Rating National Championship, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. ET

July 2: 7-on-7 Pool Play, 9 p.m.-11:30 p.m. ET

July 3: Linemen Challenge Finals and 7-on-7 semifinal and championship games, 9 p.m.-midnight ET

The players will be divided in to six teams -- Alpha Pro, Apocalypse, Field Generals, Land Sharks, Super Bad and Vapor Carbon. Here is a closer look at how the teams match up.

Team: Alpha Pro
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Jordan Palmer, defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson

The Alpha Pro team will have plenty of targets to spread the ball around. Ermon Lane and Tyler Luatua, the No. 1-ranked receiver and tight end in the country respectively, bring size and playmaking ability to the passing game. ESPN 300 athletes Corey Holmes, Jalen Hurd, John "JuJu" Smith, Ja'Von Harrison, and Derrell Scott are all explosive offensive weapons.

Defensively Alpha Pro is led by Andrew Brown, the No. 1-ranked defensive tackle in the country, ESPN 150 cornerback Damon Webb, defensive end Andrew Williams, Ohio State linebacker commit Dante Booker and LSU cornerback commit Chris Hardeman.

Complete Alpha Pro roster.

Team: Apocalypse
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Adam Tafralis, defensive coordinator Donovin Darius

The first thing that jumps out about team Apocalypse is the talent in the defensive front seven. Team Apocalypse will be led by five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan. Hand, from Woodbridge, Va., is the No. 4-ranked player in the country, while McMillan was recently bumped up to a five-star linebacker. Joining Hand and McMillan along the front seven are ESPN 300 defensive linemen Anthony Moten and Ainuu Taua, and linebackers D.J. Calhoun and Rashaan Evans.

Offensively, team Apocalypse has no shortage of playmakers. ESPN 300 wide receivers Artavis Scott, K.D. Cannon and Michiah Quick will provide explosiveness in the passing game, while athletic running backs Joe Mixon and Royce Freeman will provide athletic and reliable targets out of the backfield.

Complete Apocalypse roster.

Team: Field Generals
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Charlie Frye, defensive coordinator Michael Fletcher

Seven-on-seven events are always geared towards the offense, but with five-star defensive back Adoree' Jackson, No. 3-ranked safety Jamal Adams, and ESPN 300 cornerback Adarius Pickett in the secondary, the Field Generals should more than hold their own. New Ohio State defensive end commit Jalyn Holmes and the No. 6-ranked defensive end in the country, Solomon Thomas, will be two to watch along the defensive line.

Offensively, the Field Generals are led by ESPN 300 offensive guard Damien Mama, ESPN 300 wide receivers Austin Roberts and Thaddeus Snodgrass and explosive Notre Dame running back commit Elijah Hood.

Complete Field Generals roster.

Team: Landsharks
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Craig Nall, defensive coordinator Keith Bulluck

The Landsharks have some big-time talent along each line of scrimmage. Led by five-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, the Landsharks also feature ESPN 300 offensive guard Corey Martinez. ESPN 300 defensive linemen Gerald Willis III and Thomas Holley, as well as ESPN 300 defensive end Chad Thomas, will form a very physical and athletic defensive line.

In the secondary, the Landsharks will have three defensive backs -- Arrion Springs, Chris Lammons and Tony Brown -- that are ranked among the top 85 players in the country. The defense also features ESPN 150 linebacker Nyles Morgan.

Offensively, explosive running backs Dalvin Cook, a Florida commit, and Racean Thomas form a dangerous tandem out of the backfield, and wide receivers Travis Rudolph and Jalen Harvey are solid receiving threats.

Complete Landsharks roster.

Team: Superbad
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Dennis Gile, defensive coordinator Harold Nash Jr.

The Superbad defense line is led by five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter and ESPN 150 defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson. The linebacking corp is stacked with three ESPN 300 members, including Clifton Garrett, Christian Miller and Edwin Freeman. Cornerback Jalen Tabor is the No. 19-ranked player in the country.

Offensively, Superbad has a huge advantage with the No. 1-ranked prospect in the country, running back Leonard Fournette. This team is loaded on offense, with wide receivers Drake Harris, Josh Malone and Speedy Noil all in the mix.

Complete Superbad roster.

Team: Vapor Carbon
Coaches: Offensive coordinator George Whitfield, defensive coordinator Chris Gizzi.

Vapor Carbon will be tough to throw against with defensive backs Quin Blanding, Naijiel Hale and Ed Paris roaming the field. The linebacker group is just as impressive, with Ohio State commit Kyle Berger, Kain Daub and Dillon Bates all leading the way.

The offense for Vapor Carbon could be lethal with running back Joseph Yearby and Nick Chubb in the backfield. Spreading out wide receivers T.V. Williams, Justin Brent and tight end Ian Bunting on the outside could prove to be an awesome combination for this squad.

Team Vapor Carbon has a lot of pieces to make a long run in the 7-on-7 tournament, but then again, every team is stacked in this competition.

Complete Vapor Carbon roster.
NORMAN, Okla. -- Defensive line is a period of transition for Oklahoma. For years it has been coached by Bobby Jack Wright at defensive ends and Jackie Shipp at defensive tackles.

That changes this year as all defensive line responsibilities have been given to first-year coach Jerry Montgomery. Wright is coaching the secondary, while Shipp was let go and is now coaching at Arizona State.

Montgomery was a star recruiter for Michigan, and OU fans are hoping for the same. But he has his work cut out for him. Here is an early look at some notable targets at defensive end and tackle:


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#BlueChipBattles: ESPN 150 release edition

April, 19, 2013
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Speedy Noil, Adoree Jackson, Da'Shawn HandStudent Sports, ESPN, ESPNSpeedy Noil, Adoree Jackson and Da'Shawn Hand are three of the most coveted recruits in the Class of 2014.
#BlueChipBattles Insider: RecruitingNation summoned its writers from around the country to outline the recruiting battles for the ESPN 150's top 10 prospects.

Plus, rank the battles in SportsNation.

#TopFBMixtapes: Athlete mixtapes are all the rage in this highlight-crazed era of sports. We reached out to our Twitter followers to find out which 2014 football stars had the best highlight reels on YouTube, then had our staff rank and comment on the top submissions.

Tom Luginbill writes Insider: After talking to many coaches across the country and hearing their frustrations, here are their five biggest complaints about homemade highlight videos.

Q&A: WolverineNation on Montgomery

February, 26, 2013
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Oklahoma got its man with the hiring of former Michigan assistant coach Jerry Montgomery to replace defensive tackles coach Jackie Shipp. Montgomery is known as a young coach with lots of energy and the ability to recruit.

WolverineNation recruiting writer Tom VanHaaren took some time to answer some questions about Montgomery for SoonerNation.

SN: What is Montgomery's reputation as a recruiter among the recruits you talk with?

VanHaaren: He's a younger guy, so he related really well with recruits. He provided a little bit of energy for Michigan with his youth and that was something that resonated with the recruits. He's very personable and got along very well with moms and dads, too, which is important. He has good connections and the new relationships he built, he built them quickly. A lot of people found it easy to trust him.

SN: Who's the best player he landed during his time?

VanHaaren: He had a hand in landing running back Derrick Green, who was the No. 5-ranked running back in 2013. He has also had a big part in recruiting 2014 defensive end Da'Shawn Hand from Virginia. Hand was ESPN's junior of the year and is going to be one of the top prospects in this class.

SN: What's one example of Montgomery's recruiting ability, i.e. when he landed someone or turned someone unexpected?

VanHaaren: Probably landing Derrick Green. There were a few aspects of Green's recruitment that helped Michigan, but early on it looked like Michigan had no chance.

SN: In what regions of the country does he excel?

VanHaaren: He mainly covered the south for Michigan, but had a hand in a lot of different areas. He landed a really big defensive tackle out of Utah for 2014, Bryan Mone. He mainly recruited Virginia, Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas.

SN: If you had to use three words to describe his recruiting style, which three would you choose?

VanHaaren: Tenacious, enthusiastic, genuine.
NORMAN, Okla. -- Well before an official announcement welcoming him to the Sooners’ coaching staff, Jerry Montgomery was stumping on the recruiting trail, pitching Oklahoma to some of the top defensive line prospects in the Class of 2014.

With his latest hire, which the school finally announced Tuesday, head coach Bob Stoops showed again he’s hoping to bring better players up front to Norman. And he’s hoping that Montgomery -- and new offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh -- will be the ones who can close the deal on blue-chip line prospects the Sooners have come up short on in recent years.

[+] EnlargeJerry Montgomery
Lon Horwedel/Icon SMINew Oklahoma assistant Jerry Montgomery wasted no time in recruiting for the Sooners.
Montgomery knows how to make a good first impression.

Not long after he accepted Stoops’ offer, Montgomery was on the phone with ESPN Watch List defensive ends Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) and Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing Christian Academy) and talking to them about Oklahoma.

Landing players the caliber of Hand and Williams won’t come easy. They have impressive offer sheets, both holding offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Ohio State and USC. Yet to become nationally relevant past October once again, signing such line blue-chippers is almost a requirement.

The Sooners got by last year up front as they shared a Big 12 title. But against the likes of Notre Dame and Texas A&M, the Sooners were exposed for what they have been: a finesse team ill-equipped of playing dominant, championship-caliber football in the trenches.

That trend was going the wrong way, too, as OU whiffed on almost all of its top offensive and defensive tackle targets in the 2013 recruiting class.

Stoops is banking that Montgomery will help reverse the trend. At Michigan, he quickly gained a reputation as one of the Wolverines’ most prolific recruiters. Montgomery had a hand in Michigan landing all three of its 2014 commitments, and he had already developed relationships with some of the nation’s top rising high school seniors such as Hand and Williams.

Montgomery arrives in Norman not a day too soon, either. Over the weekend, OU already lost out on two of its top defensive tackle targets for 2014 as Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) committed to TCU while Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central) chose USC.

Sooners fans are clamoring for those days to be at an end. And that with Montgomery on board, the school of Lee Roy Selmon and Tony Casillas and Gerald McCoy will become a bastion of championship line play again.

Breaking down the board: 2014 defense 

December, 5, 2012
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Each week, Breaking down the board will take a deeper, position-by-position look at the prospects the Oklahoma football program is looking to land with the hope of filling its roster with elite playmakers. This week, SoonerNation ranks five players with offers in the Class of 2014, with No. 1 being the player who should be OU’s top priority of the five recruits listed.

To be clear, this ranking has nothing to do with the Sooners actual recruiting board/priority list. It simply is our ranking list compiled of the recruits at the position who have expressed legitimate interest in the Sooners (or vice versa) and who could be the best fits for OU’s system.

[+] EnlargeDa'Shawn Hand
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comDa'Shawn Hand is a top priority for a lot of the nation's most prestigious programs, including Oklahoma's.
1. Defensive end Da’Shawn Hand, Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge

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