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Da'Shawn Hand narrows list of college picks

6/12/2013, 4:38 p.m.
Da'Shawn Hand, the 5-star strong-side defensive end from Woodbridge, Va., has announced his top three, an exclusive list of colleges ...
Da'Shawn Hand

Da'Shawn Hand, the 5-star strong-side defensive end from Woodbridge, Va., has announced his top three, an exclusive list of colleges that features three of the best recruiting programs in the country.

Hand recently did an interview on the Smashmouth Radio Network and talked about his top three programs: Alabama, Florida and Michigan.

The most notable program missing from this list is Virginia Tech, which appeared to have quite the "home-state advantage" with Hand during the early stages of his recruiting. The other school from his top five that didn't make the cut was South Carolina.

Judging from those quotes, it would appear that education is a huge draw for Hand. Out of the three schools on his newly minted top three, that's the best news for Michigan.

Michigan is a traditional college football powerhouse, but it also has world-class academics.

Brady Hoke and Co. are putting together a great recruiting class in 2014, and Hand could be one of the marquee players in it. Michigan already landed 5-star athlete Jabrill Peppers, and he along with Hand could be major additions to Michigan's defense. Those two alone could very well take the Wolverines to the next level in the Big Ten.

At least for now in this recruiting race, Michigan has to feel great about it's chances of landing the nation's top strong-side defensive end, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

Don't be naive enough to count out Alabama, though, as Nick Saban is the best recruiter and coach in college football right now. Hand would have to put on some weight to play defensive end in the 3-4 scheme, but that's something that's not impossible, especially considering he's only a rising senior.

Alabama would provide him with the best chance to win a championship, and Saban's history of sending players to the NFL is unquestioned.

Florida may seem like the outlier on this list, but Will Muschamp and his staff have been great on the recruiting trail themselves. Florida's 2013 class was elite defensively, and the addition of Hand could eventually put its 2014 class in the same category. Overall, Florida's defense of the future will be extremely good, and the Gators should be contenders in the SEC. Contending in the SEC means contending for a national title, so Florida has a great pitch as well.

These three programs all have a lot to offer Hand, and he would bring just as much to the table for them.

USC and LSU could be outliers in this race as well, so even though Hand has a top three without those two mentioned, supporters should keep an eye out for them—especially after those official visits.

Where he commits is anybody's guess right now, but one thing is for certain: Wherever he does end up, Hand projects to be a game-changer.