Da'Shawn Hand, the best overall player in the Class of 2014, gave his verbal commitment to Alabama on Thursday in front of a live national TV audience on NBCSports Network.
The 6-4, 262-pound defensive end chose the Crimson Tide over Michigan and Florida, and he becomes the first Rivals.com No. 1 player to choose Alabama.
The Woodbridge High School (Woodbridge, VA) product visited Alabama on October 25 for the Crimson Tide's win over Tennessee, and that's when many recruiting analysts believed Hand had decided on playing for Nick Saban after Michigan had been the perceived leader. He chose 'Bama because of its academics, championship tradition and ability to produce NFL prospects. Hand will major in civil engineering.
Hand has a good mix of size and athleticism, and he will get even more physically developed via the Tide's top-notch weight and conditioning program. He has a quick first-step and should be able to be a sound run defender and explosive pass rusher. He is also very intelligent. He fits well into the Tide’s 3-4 defense and will likely be a linebacker in the scheme. While calling him a Dont’a Hightower clone is high praise, he does possess a similar skill set when comparing the two at this stage in their development. However, he is so versatile that he could play at a high level across the line at defensive end or defensive tackle. He has that much upside.
If you haven't seen Hand play, he will take part in the Under Armour All-America game on January 2 in St. Petersburg, FL.
Hand is the 23rd player to commit to Alabama in the Class of 2014.
Dave Miller, the college football editor and writer for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.