High School: Woodbridge High School (Woodbridge, Va.)
40yrd: 4.95 secs
The old saying goes “a great defense makes the best offense.” Nowhere in college football is that saying truer than in the fierce and fast SEC. And nowhere in the Southeastern Conference is it taken to heart more than with the Crimson Tide of Alabama. A staple of all his coaching stops at the collegiate level, a Nick Saban certified defense remains the bain of many offensive coordinator’s nightmares. A traditional base set of the 3-4, Coach Saban’s fearsome defenses draw their power from the rush.
To anchor a Crimson Tide takes a talent rarely seen outside of the southeast. Names like Hightower, Dareus, and Mosley have dominated SEC offensive lines on their way to NFL status. With Mosley now a Raven in the NFL, the Tide will search for his heir-apparent and a source of constant pressure on Quarterbacks. That solution may come in the form of incoming freshman defensive end, Da’Shawn Hand.
A product of Woodbridge, Virginia, Hand devastated offensive lines in his High School career amassing 227 tackles and 56 total sacks, including 21 sacks in his sophomore season. In game, the 6’4” freshman shows a speed off the edge Tuscaloosa has not seen in years. In a blink, Hand can move from his three point stance to meeting the ball carrier in the backfield. His physical nature and the point of attack is near unequaled as he overpowers the biggest right tackles to pursue the Quarterback. His skill and motor draw many comparisons to a younger Robert Mathis of Indianapolis Colts fame, particularly in his constant disruption of the opposing run game.
In a division such as the SEC West, run games dominate the line of scrimmage. Hand is the definition of the term “run stopper”, clogging the running lanes and cutting off the ball carrier seconds after the snap. Paired with retuning Tide defenders Brandon Ivory on the D-line and Xzavier Dickson at OLB, Hand will have experienced teachers on the field to push him in the right direction and teach him the inner workings of the play calls.
As with all recruits, Hand does require some refining during the training process. Though he exhibits SEC ready strength and speed, his three technique and swim moves will need improvement over the summer. It’s no doubt Hand posses the power to bulldoze almost any blocker placed in his way, but for the mainstays at right tackle in the conference, he’ll need more than shear power to break the line. A good swim move on a tackle’s inside shoulder, paired with his natural bull rush will quickly validate the earlier comparisons to Robert Mathis.
An offseason with the crack staff at Alabama will take this diamond in the rough and train him to be an All SEC D-end on their way to Cowboys Stadium for another national title.