Academic pitch helped Alabama land five-star DE Hand

By JC Shurburtt | 247Sports

Da'Shawn Hand picks Alabama even though many thought he'd sign with Michigan. (247Sports)
Da'Shawn Hand picks Alabama even though many thought he'd sign with Michigan. (247Sports)

Five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va.) committed to Alabama last Thursday, which surprised many who had him penciled in as part of Michigan's 2014 class.

Anyone who has ever met Hand knows that there would be more to it than him picking the most popular and successful program in the country and there was.

The Crimson Tide football program (three of the last four BCS National Championships, three straight top-ranked recruiting classes, etc.) speaks for itself, the University of Alabama itself helped to win Hand with a strong academic sales pitch.

A source close to Hand said that the the Tide coaching staff and university personnel convinced the talented prospect that he could graduate from UA with a degree in Civil Engineering. University of Alabama College of Engineering Dean Charles L. “Chuck” Karr will personally serve as Hand's academic advisor. Those academic factors, combined with the chance to play in the Southeastern Conference, tipped the scales in Alabama's favor.

Behind the scenes, there was a quiet buzz that Hand preferred playing in the SEC. He informed a program in a different conference at the time they were eliminated (this past summer) that was likely bound for the SEC.

Hand, the No. 4 overall prospect in the 2014 247Sports Composite rankings, is commitment No. 23 for Alabama, which already has No. 1 overall prospect Cameron Robinson, an offensive tackle from West Monroe, La., committed.

While Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the 247Sports team recruiting rankings for this cycle, the Tide could face stiff competition for its fourth straight top-ranked class from SEC West rival LSU. Hand's commitment gives the Tide 303.56 total points with 23 commits and several prospects like five-star legacy cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala.), the son of Tide legend Bobby Humphrey, uncommitted but a safe bet to head to Tuscaloosa.

The highest-rated class on record is Florida's 2010 class, which totaled 321.8 points.

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