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College Football Recruiting 2014: Breaking Down Da’Shawn Hand’s Top Three

Josh Holmberg-USA TODAY Sports

To most people, this is the quietest part of the recruiting cycle. And to a degree, it’s easy to understand that sentiment. Aside from a few commitments here and there, usually outside of the top thirty or so players, it’s really more about the camp circuits right now.

That was until Wednesday, when the No. 1 player in the country, Da’Shawn Hand (according to rivals.com) narrowed his massive offer list down to just three schools.

Those schools, in no particular order are: Alabama, Florida and Michigan. Shortly after that, he listed two more schools that weren’t in his top three, but were still in consideration: LSU and USC.

Many people were shocked that two schools he’s apparently been very high on (South Carolina and Virginia Tech), didn’t even make his top five. Hand, from Woodbridge, Va., has been vocal about his high opinion on Gamecock defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, whom he attempts to model his game after, as well as his home state Hokies and their Bud Foster-led defense.

Still, it’s not hard to understand the schools in his top three, and even top five. ‘Bama essentially has proprietary rights on both first round draft picks as well as National Championships, Florida’s not far behind them in either and Michigan has finally re-entered major college football relevancy after the futile Rich Rodriguez years.

So, would it be a shock if he went astray from his top three and picked either Southern Cal or LSU? Of course not. LSU is even better than ‘Bama at producing defensive linemen, and SC is, well, SC.

When will the 6-foot 4, 250-pound pass-rushing phenom make the big decision?  He’s indicated it will probably come in either December or January, after his senior season at Woodbridge Senior High School is completed.

Even still, don’t be surprised if it comes down to the wire, and Hand is picking on National Signing Day. Remember, last year’s No. 1 player, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, kept dropping hints he’d be picking a school in the weeks leading up to Signing Day, yet still wound up making the big announcement on the big day.

If I had to speculate as to where he’s leaning, I’m going to go with Alabama. Why? Because Nick Saban rarely loses top players he’s really gunning for, and he’s going hard after Hand.

But this is recruiting, and nothing is certain until a signature is signed (and even then it’s not certain, cough, cough — EDDIE VANDERDOES -- cough, cough).

Rick Stavig is a National Recruiting Columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickstavig or add him to your network on google