MORE: Class of 2014 Rivals100
When Da'Shawn Hand committed to Alabama in November during a televised ceremony at his school, it was the first time the Crimson Tide had landed the nation's top rated recruit in the Rivals era. The Woodbridge (Va.) Woodbridge Senior star was back in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 24 for an unofficial visit and to do some recruiting.
"It was cool," said the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Hand. "It's going to be a fun ride. I just can't wait to get down there and have fun with my teammates. I'm just ready to ball."
A few people were wondering if the departure of Chris Rumph as the defensive line coach and the hiring of Bo Davis to replace him would have any affect on Hand's commitment status but it sounds like coach Davis got Hand's stamp of approval.
"He was great," Hand said. "He had me ready to practice."
There is a lot of talk about how this Alabama class could be the greatest of the Rivals era. The Tide set a blistering pace early and never let up. There is a very real possibility that Alabama's 2014 recruiting class ends up with most points in the history of the Rivals Team Recruiting Rankings. While the media and the fans may gush about this, Hand and many of the other recruits brush it off.
"We don't really talk about it [the recruiting rankings] like that," he said. "There is always a bond and we have to stick together. If that bond gets stronger and stronger we will have a chance to win another National Championship."
Going from start to finish as the top player in the Rivals100 is a difficult task to accomplish. Hand joined a select fraternity of outstanding players including difference makers like Jadeveon Clowney, Robert Nkemdiche and others when the final Rivals100 was released in mid-January.
Because of all the camps, combines and all-star games Hand was able to go to throughout his recruitment, he was able to network with fellow recruits that had experienced much of the same notoriety that he did. Hand learned a great deal about how the process works, how many players pick their school and what many players think is important. In many ways, Hand is now an extremely qualified recruiting expert so, as we near National Signing Day, he shared some of his predictions for some of the top players in the country.
Adoree' Jackson - "I feel like it will be USC or some school in California," said Hand. "I feel like he loves the west coast too much."
Malachi Dupre - "I want him to come to Alabama because that would just add on to the receiving corp," Hand said. "He can help add some big plays to the offense."
John Smith- "I think he picks UCLA. I feel like he wants to make an impact and change things around," he said. "I like being different."
Damian Prince - "I have no clue," said Hand. "I think he might stay at Maryland. I think he might start there."
Lorenzo Carter - "I roomed with him down in Orlando at the Under Armour All-America Game and I have no idea," Hand said.
Damien Mama - "I don't know," said Hand. "I want him to come to 'Bama. He needs to come with us."
Budda Baker - "I think he picks UCLA," he said. "I feel like UCLA is cooking up a good class."
Hand will be reporting to Tuscaloosa on June 3.
Adam Friedman is the Mid-Atlantic Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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