- Tom VanHaaren, ESPN Staff Writer
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Two top-10 defensive linemen walk into a gym together. That’s not the start of a bad joke, it’s a weekly occurrence for No. 4 ranked Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) and 2015 defensive tackle Tim Settle (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson), who is ranked No. 7 in his class.
Their schools are only roughly 20 minutes apart, and the two have found a friendship through similarities and the ability to relate to the other’s situation.
“Da’Shawn tells me the rights and wrongs and what I need to watch out for in recruiting. He’s giving me advice like a big brother, or mentor,” Settle said. “He told me to just go somewhere that fits me. He said it’s going to be me going there for four years so it has to be where I want to be.”
Settle has been able to take a few visits with Hand and experience the recruiting process alongside someone who has the same thoughts he does. Not everyone can relate to being a highly sought-after prospect, and the friendship is something Settle has really leaned on.
“One thing people don’t understand is the position Tim is in, it’s hard to talk to his friends about it. He sometimes wishes he didn’t have interviews or coaches calling, but his friends wish they had that,” mentor John Harris said. “Tim can talk to Da’Shawn about that stuff and they get on the phone talking about their visits and recruitment. Tim is going through the exact same thing that Da’Shawn went through, so it’s helped him.”
The two prospects are both originally from Philadelphia and naturally they share a love for food, noting a trip to Quickie Burger while in Ann Arbor, Mich., as the highlight of their visit to Michigan.
They are both quiet, religious and would rather stay at home than attend a party.
Both are considered disruptive forces along the line and are being recruited by similar schools. But with all the similarities they share, Settle wants to make something very clear to everyone he talks to.
“I tell this to everybody,” Settle said. “Da’Shawn is Da’Shawn and I’m Tim. He has even told me I need to go somewhere where I fit in, for me.”
Settle knows that he is his own person and he needs to go through the process for himself. There’s no doubt that having a friend and big brother figure is a big help, but he’s more than capable of getting through the process on his own.
Settle already has offers from some of the top programs, including Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC, among others. At 6-foot-3, 308 pounds, he is well on his way to being an outstanding prospect in his own right.
The fast start to his recruitment wasn’t entirely unexpected, and Settle knows exactly why he is so coveted.
He will tell you he can strip the ball at will and is able to make a big play when his team needs it.
He prides himself on his athleticism and how well he moves for a big man. To prove that point he talks about how he played basketball and tried to play baseball as well. He laughs as he describes himself playing in the outfield and striking out at nearly ever at bat.
“A 300-pound dude playing baseball isn’t really normal,” he says laughing. “My freshman year I didn’t know how to slide so I would just run through the bases.”
He even has a name for his game on the football field; he calls it chaos. Despite teams running away from his side of the line, he describes chaos as jamming holes, shedding blocks and making any tackle.
He models his game after his favorite NFL player, Ryan Kerrigan. Not just because he is a Redskins fan, but because nobody expected much out of Kerrigan when he entered the league.
That fits Settle's personality, being quiet and unassuming but then causing chaos.
The massive junior has a good grasp on his game and where he’s headed in the recruiting process. It’s still early, so he is just taking everything in as it comes.
Settle's taking in the advice from Hand while making sure he does his own homework as well. He’ll have to make his own decision eventually, and he knows that time will come.
“Right now I’m trying to be open to everyone, and give everyone a chance before I give anything out. I just want to make sure I have a great time on every visit,” he said. “I’ll make sure I find a place with someone to take care of me. Coaches, teammates, just a place that will have my back no matter what. That’s how I’ll know the best place for me.”