Print and Go Back ESPN.com: On The Trail: East Region [Print without images]

Sunday, January 20, 2013
Da'Shawn Hand on Maryland visit, leaders

By Dave Hooker

Da'Shawn Hand visited Maryland this weekend.

The Terrapins have some work to do to land the ESPN Watch List prospect.

Da'Shawn Hand
Woodbridge (Va.) High School defensive end Da'Shawn Hand has received offers from some of the nation's top programs.
Hand recently listed his five finalists and Maryland wasn't on the list. North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Michigan and South Carolina were. When Hand was asked what schools could climb up to finalists level, he immediately named Notre Dame and Ohio State.

"Their coaching staff. Their academics," Hand said when asked what he liked about the Fighting Irish. "They're No. 1 in business. They're very, very, very, very close. The team is very close. You can tell in the locker room that if adversity came, they know how to fix it."

As for the Buckeyes, they have similar offerings.

"Ohio State is the exact same thing," the defensive end from Woodbridge (Va.) High said. "I took a visit out there. The visit was OK. It was one of those schools you have interest in. I definitely like the coaching."

Hand is being recruited by OSU linebackers coach Mike Vrabel and receivers coach Zach Smith. Hand still has trouble believing he's such a coveted prospect.

"It would mean a lot to me," the 6-foot-4, 245-pound prospect said of the possibility he'll be one of the top 2014 prospects in the nation. "I think that shows that hard work pays off. I'm not the only person that has been working hard everyday, off the field as well, in the class room and character. ... It's just an honor."

Hand admitted he has even been taken aback by all the attention.

"For it to happen all of a sudden, it's like, 'Whoa! Me of all people?' " Hand said. "It's just surreal."

Hand said he believes he's ready for the pressure that can come with being such a coveted prospect. In fact, he's already taken steps to limit it. That's why he cut his list down to a flexible list of finalists.

"It will take a lot of pressure off," Hand said. "I don't want to waste anybody's time. I don't want anybody to waste their time with me. I'm not cutting anybody off, but at the same time I want to go from here. ... I'll listen [to other schools]. I ask questions. I'm polite. I'm never just going to cut off a coach or anything. I think they know and I know I'm trying to stick with the list, but if there's something that sticks out about them, I'll definitely take a look."

Here's a breakdown of Hand's current 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."

North Carolina: "I went there twice," Hand said. "Went to a game. Loved the atmosphere. Loved the coaching staff. ... They're rebuilding. It's a chance to be a part of something special."

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."